Watch The ESA's Spaceplane Launch 

Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

Today the European Space Agency's test spaceplane went on a successful 100-minute, remotely-operated ride along the equator from Kourou, French Guiana, to the Pacific Ocean, just west of the Galapagos islands.

IXV was launched 340km into space on top of a Vega rocket, flight VV04, had climbed to 412 km before began a long glide back through the atmosphere. During the flight, IXV tested the latest technologies and critical systems to help guide the design of future spaceplanes and reusable launchers.

We covered the event live based on ESA's live video and Twitter feed:

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And the clock is ticking again.

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And liftoff!

Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)
Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

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Separation of first and second stages has been confirmed.

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Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

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The fourth stage's engine is now firing to inject the Vega and its payload into a target orbit.

Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

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According to ESA everything seems OK!

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Watch the replay of Vega liftoff with IXV here:

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This is how the equatorial trajectory of the spaceplane looks like:

Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

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ESA reports: In 7 minutes, ESA's spaceplane will dive into Earth's atmosphere at circa 120km altitude moving at 27,000 km/hr. All systems looks ok, both in space and on the ground.

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And we have a spaceplane again!

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Opening of the main parachute is confirmed!

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And splashdown! European Space Agency's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is back on Earth, the 100 minutes long mission has been successfully completed.

Experimental ESA Spaceplane's First Test Flight Was a Success (Updated)

This fine time-lapse video below, shows IXV's preparation, fairing encapsulation, transfer to the Vega mobile gantry and upper composite integration on the Vega launcher.

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