European Space Agency awarded contracts for the production of a reusable unmanned robotic orbital laboratory and ground-based landing platforms.
As part of the Space Rider program, ESA plans to launch a spacecraft into low-earth orbit in the third quarter of 2023 to conduct scientific experiments and test new technologies in microgravity.
An autonomous space laboratory the size of two minivans will be able to carry up to 800 kg of payload, with a volume of no more than 1200 liters, and spend up to two months in space. The high-tech module will be equipped with its own power source, tools for various manipulations, measurements, processing and telemetry.
Output into orbit will be carried out on a Vega-C rocket. The service module is designed for multiple use, therefore, when finished each mission, he will land at one of two landing spaceports: Kourou in French Guiana or at the Santa Maria backup site in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.
For a restart, it will be enough to carry out minimal repairs and fill the cargo compartment.
Space Rider will assist not only the space agency in testing various equipment and technologies, but also private companies in conducting their own experiments, primarily in the field of pharmaceuticals and biology..
Recall that earlier ESA also allocated €100.2 million to clean up space debris from earth orbit.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: ESA
ESA to launch robotic orbital laboratory in 2023