SENER Aeroespacial is the design authority for the full GNC (guidance, navigation and control) for the Space Rider reusable space vehicle, which pilots the re-entry module from Earth orbit until landing at a pre-defined airfield. This is a mission to develop a reusable, unmanned, orbital space aircraft, a continuation of the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle), in which SENER Aeroespacial also took part.
SENER Aeroespacial signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space Italia to design the GNC system of the re-entry module, which can be considered the intelligence of the spacecraft as it pilots the vehicle from the time it separates from the orbital module until gliding back to Earth. The system is being developed with the support of Elecnor-Deimos for the atmospheric entry phase.
The European Space Agency‘s (ESA) Space Rider mission seeks to provide Europe with a space transport vehicle to LEO that is independent, affordable and reusable, meaning it is capable of returning after putting its payload in orbit. Designed to fly six times to LEO in missions lasting up to two months, Space Rider will be launched by a VEGA-C rocket in 2023.
Space Rider is also intended as a robotic laboratory capable of carrying out experiments for two months that will be used to demonstrate technologies and promote research in sectors such as pharmacy, biomedicine, biology and physical sciences. At the end of each mission, Space Rider will return to Earth autonomously and its payload will be unloaded before the vehicle is refurbished for another flight.
This project is a continuation of IXV, a technology demonstration mission that validated the re-entry capabilities after the launch of the vehicle in 2015 from a VEGA rocket, its hypersonic and supersonic flight, which was controlled by means of thrusters and aerodynamic fins, and its atmospheric re-entry and final recovery in the waters of the Pacific. SENER Aeroespacial was the main contractor for the IXV’s GNC system.
This experience, in addition to that gained as a supplier of the navigation system (VNE/NAVIGA) for VEGA-C rockets, consolidates SENER Aeroespacial as a leading supplier for space transport vehicles and launchers.