ESA Signs Development Contract For Future Launch Vehicles
The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a pair of contracts with Italy’s NGL Prime S.p.A. to develop concepts for future launch vehicles as well as develop a reusable test vehicle under ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program, ESA announced June 27.
The European Next Generation Launcher study will examine options that Europe could adopt for its next-generation launch vehicle. The study is being prepared for the ESA Ministerial Conference in 2008, where strategic decisions about future launcher development will be made.
The European Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle program is intended to demonstrate advanced re-entry technologies and integrated system design capabilities. The mission calls for a vehicle to be launched aboard a Vega rocket in 2010 from Kourou, French Guiana, and demonstrate automatic re-entry, descent and landing in the Pacific Ocean.
NGL Prime, a joint venture of EADS Astrium and Finmeccanica, was created in 2006 to act as the industrial prime contractor, managing the development and production of Europe’s next generation launch systems. The contracts are valued at a combined 20 million euros ($26.9 million).