On February 11, 2015 at 13:40 UTC the "Vega” rocket was launched from Kourou space center in French Guiana, the northern coast of South America. The rocket provided a suborbital flight of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). The IXV is an European Space Agency (ESA) experimental re-entry vehicle to validate European reusable launchers, evaluated in the frame of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), and developed under the leadership of the NGL Prime SpA company.
The test flight marked new territory for Europe and in hypersonic research, laying the foundation for plans to develop a robotic mini-shuttle and reusable launcher stages in the future. The flight lasted about 100 minutes from liftoff to landing. The IXV passed above ground stations in Africa, radioing its status back to engineers as it reached the top of an arcing suborbital trajectory at an altitude of about 256 miles (413 kilometers). The IXV dropped into the atmosphere, deployed parachutes and splashed down on target in the Pacific Ocean west of the Galapagos Islands. Officials declared splashdown at 15:19 UTC.
It was then recovered and hoisted onboard the Nos Aries recovery ship for return to Europe.