The European Space Agency's new Space Rider reusable spacecraft. Building on the reentry vehicle design demonstrated on the IXV test flight in 2015, Space Rider will serve as a recoverable and reusable platform for medium-duration scientific payloads in low Earth orbit. The shoe-shaped lifting body/spaceplane portion will perform a parafoil-assisted horizontal landing, allowing experiments to be analyzed back on Earth. A payload bay in the middle of the vehicle allows 1.2 cubic meters of volume for hosted or deployable payloads (potentially including smallsat rideshares). It also serves as a key step towards ESA developing a rapidly reusable human spaceflight vehicle.
The expendable service module is built around the AVUM+ upper stage of Arianespace's Vega-C launch vehicle. The ALEK-2 (AVUM Life Extension Kit) connects the SM with the lifting body, providing long duration mission capabilities such as solar power generation and active thermal control.
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