European Shuttle Prototype Lands Safely
Sun, May 09, 2004
STOCKHOLM, Sweden(瑞典首都-斯德哥尔摩) - An unmanned prototype of a European space shuttle glided safely back to Earth on Saturday after being dropped from nearly 8,000 feet up by a helicopter.
Guided by Global Positioning System satellites(全球定位卫星), the German-designed EADS(欧洲航空防务与空间公司) Phoenix was dropped by a heavy-duty helicopter over Sweden at 9:45 a.m. and "landed perfectly" 90 seconds later on a test runway north of Stockholm, a project spokeswoman said.
"Everyone here is ecstatic," said Johanna Bergstroem-Roos, of the North European Aerospace Test Range in Kiruna, 770 miles north of Stockholm.
"This gives us wind in our sails."
The Phoenix shuttle, along with the Ariane 5 rocket, represents the European Space Agency's hope for sending astronauts into space, but project managers concede a full-size version will not be ready until sometime between 2015 and 2020.
The test flight was originally planned for Friday but was postponed so technicians could finish analyzing data from an earlier test of the vehicle's onboard computers this week.
The next step likely will be to drop the prototype from higher altitudes, with the help of a high-altitude balloon, Bergstroem-Roos said. The finished shuttle must be capable of gliding to land from an altitude of 80 miles, she said.
The prototype is just under 23 feet long, weighs 2,640 pounds and has a wingspan of 13 feet. It's one-sixth the size of the actual planned vehicle.
EADS, or the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., is the largest aerospace company in Europe and the second-largest worldwide.