Re-entry is one of the biggest challenges in modern spaceflight. It's the make of break moment, the time when satellites burn up and astronauts hold on for the ride of their lives.
A new ESA spacecraft, called IXV, will be launched into space in November 2014 in a bid to feed precious new data to engineers as they try to master the difficult transition between space and planet Earth.
Giorgio Tumino, IXV Programme Manager, runs the project:
"The objective of the mission of the IXV is to master all those grey areas that we don't know about atmospheric re-entry," he says.
To fill in those gaps in our knowledge the IXV will lift off on a Vega rocket to an altitude of 430 kilometres - as high as the International Space Station - and then fly back to a targeted spot on Earth.
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