Falke test ship
First flightSeptember 6, 1990 (only flight)
Crew membersnone

Falke was a German program to fly a subscale model of the Space Shuttle orbiter in real conditions in order to obtain aerodynamic data in the frame of the preparation of the Hermes spaceplane. One flight test was performed in 1990.


The program was funded by the German federal Ministry of Research. The leadership of the program was DLR. The flight model was produced by the German company OHB-System

Flight model characteristics

The Space Shuttle, whose shape was used for Falke
The Space Shuttle, whose shape was used for Falke

The shape of Falke was the one of the Space Shuttle orbiter with a 1/5 scale factor. Falke had its own power, an autopilot and a computer to control the hydraulically actuated flight control surfaces of the spaceplane.

The sensor suite of Falke was measuring attitude, temperature, flux, pressure and acceleration.

CNES was tracking Falke by radar and telemetry.

Flight history

The only flight of Falke took place on September 6, 1990. French space agency CNES launched a stratospheric balloon from its Aire-sur-l'Adour center carrying Falke. After a 2 h 43 m ascent, Falke was released at an altitude of 38.8 km (24.1 mi).

At the end of the flight, a parachute was deployed at an altitude of 6 km and Falke landed in horizontal position on airbags.


Three further flights were foreseen, but they were cancelled when the European Space Agency cancelled Hermes.


Details and images of the balloon drop test from a balloon in 1990 - StratoCat website