New European IXV re-entry vehicle to traverse "l'espace"

The European Space Agency has been working on a new re-entry vehicle, but unlike NASA is not interested in a reusable shuttle-like approach. They’re planning on having an “expendable” re-entry vehicle, and although they probably could have chosen their words better, it makes a lot of sense to have parts that can be completely expended during the unbelievably dangerous re-entry process. It’s going to use little paddles on its rear to stay steady, kind of like steering an innertube down a river by dragging your toes in the water (but hotter).

Autoplaying video of the proposed vehicle after the fold.

embed_flash(‘width=”400″ height=”225″‘, ‘’)

[From the ESA’s page]

The coalition of European countries involved may have some issues of nationalism, however; what if the first astronauts (or Astreoknaughts, as they’ll probably call them) be all French and smuggle a flag onto Neptune or what have you and claim it for le nouveau roi Louis XX. Not likely, but a great start for a really bad sci-fi book.