TThe European Space Agency (ESA) has signed contracts for its first reusable space transport system. Known as the Space Rider, it is a two-seater two-volume robotic laboratory.
ESA has signed two contracts. The first is for the delivery of the spacecraft by the first contractors: Thales Alenia Space Italy and Avio. The second covers the delivery of the terrestrial segment (infrastructure required for the launch and operation of Space Rider) by the Italian coprimi contractors: Telespazio and Altec. Designed to launch an ESA Vega-C rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, the Space Rider will remain in orbit for about two months. It will carry up to 800 kg of experiments and technological demonstrations in its 1,200-liter loading port.
Following the flight, it will descend to Earth and land on a runway, either in Kourou or in Santa Maria in the Azores. The experiments will then be downloaded and analyzed, and the spacecraft itself will be prepared for another flight. Pharmaceutical, medical and biological experiments are expected to be the main choices for payload. Space Rider was approved at the Space19 + meeting of the 22 ESA member states in November 2019. Its first launch is expected in 2023.