Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe (PRIDE)
OrganizationESA and Italian Space Agency
PurposeReusable spaceship for ESA
StatusCritical design review
Programme history
First flightPlanned: 2022[1][2]
Vehicle information
Launch vehicle(s)Vega C

The Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe (PRIDE) is an Italian Space Agency programme that aims to develop a reusable robotic spaceplane named Space Rider in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

The PRIDE programme was approved at the ESA Ministerial Council in Naples, Italy on 21 November 2012 under the parent ESA programme called Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). The Space Rider spaceplane will be similar to, but smaller and cheaper than, the Boeing X-37. It will be launched in 2022 by the Vega C rocket, operate robotically in orbit, and land automatically on a runway.[3]


The European Space Agency has a program called Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), which made a call for submissions for a reusable spaceplane.[4][5] One of the submissions was by the Italian Space Agency, that presented their 'Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe' (PRIDE program) which went ahead to develop the prototype named Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) and the consequential Space Rider spaceplane that inherits technology from its prototype IXV.[6]

The PRIDE programme was initially funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) on 21 November 2012, at the ESA Ministerial Council in Naples, Italy.[7] The project was created with the objective of creating a small unmanned spaceplane that was also affordable and reusable. During the initial design stage the vehicle was referred to as PRIDE-ISV; the suffix ISV stands for Innovative Space Vehicle. The PRIDE development team began industrial activities in September 2015. The first launch of the Space Rider production spaceplane is expected around 2022.[1][2]

Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle

Main article: Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle

The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) was developed to serve as a prototype spaceplane to validate ESA's preliminary work. It was launched on 11 February 2015[8][9][10] and flown to 412 km (256 mi) altitude. It was then brought down under a parasail for a splashdown on the Pacific Ocean.[11]

Space Rider

Main article: Space Rider

With affordability in mind, the Space Rider spaceplane is based on technologies developed and tested on the IXV.[6] The Space Rider is also a lifting body without wings or vertical fins. For landing, it will deploy a parasail and land on a field.[12]

The Space Rider spaceplane will be capable of carrying a 300 kg payload into orbit. It will be equipped with solar panels, allowing for two months in-orbit operations. Vega will be used as a launch vehicle.[13]

The Space Rider will be used as an orbital test platform for re-usable launcher stages, Earth observation, robotic exploration, servicing of orbital infrastructures, and microgravity experiments.[6][13]

See also


  1. ^ a b ESA's reusable Space Rider capsule would carry equipment to orbit and back. Michael Irving, New Atlas. 6 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Space Rider: Europe's reusable space transport system. Space Daily. 6 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on IXV". ESA. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  4. ^ "New milestone in IXV development". ESA. 15 September 2010. The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), under ESA's Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), is the step forward from the successful Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator flight in 1998, establishing Europe's role in this field.
  5. ^ New milestone in IXV development. ESA. 15 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Space Rider PRIDE. Italian Aerospace Research Centre. Accessed: 15 November 2018.
  7. ^ "N° 37–2012: European Ministers decided to invest in space to boost Europe's competitiveness and growth" (Press release). ESA. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  8. ^ "European space plane set for February launch". News Corp Australia. 22 November 2014.
  9. ^ "European space plane set for February launch: firm". 21 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Worldwide launch schedule". 18 November 2014. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010.
  11. ^ "IXV Mission Timeline". ESA. 9 February 2015. It will navigate through the atmosphere within its reentry corridor before descending, slowed by a multistage parachute, for a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean some 100 minutes after liftoff.
  12. ^ Conceptual Design of the Descent Subsystem for the Safe Atmospheric Re-Entry Flight of Space Rider. (PDF) doi:10.13009/EUCASS2017-624 Alessandro Balossino, Luciano Battocchio, Matteo Giacci, Giuseppe Guidotti, Giuseppe Rufolo, Angelo Denaro, Nicola Paletta. Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali. 2017.
  13. ^ a b "ESA spaceplane on display" (Press release). ESA. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.