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IAR-111 Excelsior

IAR-111 Excelsior was a suborbital rocketplane program developed at ARCA for commercial suborbital spaceflights, between 2010-2012. The program is curently closed but future developments might be considered.

 

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The typical flight sequence of this vehicle includes high acceleration takeoff, followed by a horizontal acceleration at low subsonic speeds, then by rapid ascension, in approximately two minutes, to the altitude of 48.000 feet. At this altitude the airplane will drop the external fuel tank and continue to climb near vertical to the edge of space at 61 mi (100 km). Excelsior will reentry into atmosphere and land as a glider.


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Excelsior was designed to have a capability of Mach 1.5 supersonic flight at 52,000 ft (16,000 m), Mach 2.6 at 98,000ft (30.000 m) and Mach 5.2 at 157,000 ft (48,000 m). The Excelsior was entirely build of composite materials.


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The aircraft was designed to have a crew of two, the pilot and the navigator, or passenger, although ARCA was considering increasing the crew capacity up to five for space tourism. The aircraft capsule is detachable and is equipped with two rocket propelled parachutes. As such the capsule can be separated form the aircraft at speeds between Mach 0-1.2 and heights above 300 feet and can return the crew safely to the ground.

 

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IAR-111 Excelsior, technical specifications

 

Length
78.7 ft
24 m
Wingspan
39.3 ft
12 m
Empty weight
15,900 lb
7,200 kg
Takeoff weight
41,850 lb
19,000 kg
Sea level thrust
44,000 lbf
20,000 kgf
Engine type
Executor
Executor
Max. altitude
330,000 ft
100,000 m
Crew
2
2

 

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Mission 6

On September 26, 2011 ARCA carried out Mission 6. The mission took place in cooperation with the Special Aviation Unit and the Coast Guard and the mission objective was to test the recovery system for Excelsior crew capsule.
At 11.00 AM a Mi-17 helicopter from Special Aviation Unit lifted the capsule at 2200 ft (700 m) above sea level.
At that altitude the helicopter released the capsule. The parachute was extracted from its canister by a rocket, it rapidly opened and the capsule landed on the sea surface with a descent speed of 7 m/s.


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The capsule was recovered by the same helicopter with the support of the Coast Guard.


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