Today the European Space Agency's test spaceplane went on a successful 100-minute, remotely-operated ride along the equator from Kourou, French Guiana to the Pacific Ocean, just west of the Galapagos islands.

IXV was launched 340 km into space on top of a Vega rocket, flight VV04, had climbed to 412 km before began a long glide back through the atmosphere. During the flight, IXV tested the latest technologies and critical systems to help guide the design of future spaceplanes and reusable launchers.

We covered the event live based on ESA's live video and Twitter feed:

Update 1:

Advertisement

Update 2:

Update 3:

And the clock is ticking again.

Update 4:

And liftoff!

Advertisement

Update 5:

Separation of first and second stages has been confirmed.

Update 6:

Advertisement

Update 7:

Advertisement

Update 8:

The fourth stage's engine is now firing to inject the Vega and its payload into a target orbit.

Advertisement

Update 9:

Update 10:

Advertisement

Update 11:

Update 12:

According to ESA everything seems okay!

Advertisement

Update 13:

Watch the replay of Vega liftoff with IXV here:

Update 14:

This is how the equatorial trajectory of the spaceplane looks like:

Advertisement

Update 15:

ESA reports: In 7 minutes, ESA's spaceplane will dive into Earth's atmosphere at circa 120km altitude moving at 27,000 km/hr. All systems looks okay, both in space and on the ground.

Update 16:

And we have a spaceplane again!

Advertisement

Update 17:

Opening of the main parachute is confirmed!

Update 18:

Advertisement

Update 19:

And splashdown! European Space Agency's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is back on Earth, the 100 minutes long mission has been succesfully completed.

Advertisement

This fine time-lapse video below, shows IXV's preparation, fairing encapsulation, transfer to the Vega mobile gantry and upper composite integration on the Vega launcher.