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ESA contracts Italian firms to build its reusable Space Rider

ESA’s Space Rider. Image: ESA

Paris, 11 December 2020. – The European Space Agency (ESA) contracted four Italian space firms to go ahead with the development of its reusable Low Earth Orbit Space Rider, ESA announced.

Space Rider is a reusable spacecraft of about the size of two minivans and can carry customer payloads of 1200 liter volume or up to 800 kilogram, according to ESA.

“Launched on a Vega-C rocket, this spacecraft will serve as an uncrewed robotic laboratory in low Earth orbit, returning to Earth with its payloads and being reused on future missions,” ESA said. “Space Rider offers routine access to and return from space for a wide range of European space and non-space applications, including in-orbit research and technology demonstrations.”

ESA signed prime contracts with Thales Alenia Space Italy and Avio to deliver the Space Rider flight model including the re-entry module and the AVUM orbital service module, the agency said. The second contract covers the ground segment and is delivered by Telespazio and Altec as prime contractors.

“Activities are on track for the first flight of Space Rider in the third quarter of 2023 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana,” ESA said.

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