In concert with its goal to develop the Vegalaunch vehicle, Italy is investigating potential payloads for the modest capacity booster. One of the leading concepts for a long-term program is the CARINA (Capsule di Rientro Non Abitata) microgravity spacecraft. With a total mass of 450-500 kg, CARINA could carry a materials science payload of up to 160 kg into a 300-km, low-inclination orbit for operations of up to five days. Development Phase B activities were completed in 1994, permitting a maiden flight in the 1997-1998 time frame.
Current designs call for a spacecraft with a diameter of 1.2 m and a height of 1.7 m at launch, including the 1.0 m diameter, 1.2 m tall reentry capsule. The payload volume would be restricted to 0.3 ma, and power would be supplied from lithium batteries. Launches would be conducted from the San Marco platform in the Indian Ocean with water recoveries nearby. Alternatively, small foreign launch vehicles, e.g., the US Pegasus, could be employed (References 775-776).
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