An experimental European spaceplane completed a trouble-free mission on Feb. 11, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos Islands following a picture-perfect re-entry that could open the door for future development of reusable space transportation vehicles. The mission, dubbed the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), lifted off at 10:40 a.m. local time atop a Vega rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The vehicle, developed by a ...

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