Press release

AVIO Signs Contract With ESA For the Development of the Space Rider System

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AVIO and Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) as co-contractor, signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development of the automated reusable Space Rider transportation system, designed for deployment by the new Vega C light launcher into low Earth orbit (LEO). The total worth of the contract is 167M€.

Space Rider is Europe’s solution for its own affordable and reusable end-to-end integrated space transportation system for unmanned missions and for routine access and return from low orbit. It will be used to transport a variety of payloads into different low Earth orbit (LEO) altitudes and inclinations.

Designed as a free-flying orbital platform, Space Rider is capable of remaining two months in orbit, safely re-entering the atmosphere and landing on the ground with a precision of 150 metres. It can be recovered along with its payload, refurbished, and reused for up to six missions.

AVIO is in charge of the propulsions system and the expandable service module. Space Rider will be launched into space aboard the Vega C launcher, developed by AVIO for the European Space Agency.

Leading a consortium of European manufacturers, research centers and universities, Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the development of the reentry module (RM), the most challenging of the project derived from the IXV, experimental space shuttle made in Italy with the strong support from the Italian space agency ASI and tested in 2015.

“Space Rider is a unique system that expands the capabilities and uses of the Vega launcher also in the activities of orbital missions extended over time and in the return from space. Many other applications are possible starting from this platform, such as in-orbit servicing activities. We are happy to pursue this fascinating future together with Thales Alenia and with the support of the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency “said Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio.