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Eureca(yoo-ree -kă) short for European retrievable carrier. A small reusable robotic space platform developed by the ESA. It was designed to be jettisoned from a space shuttle, propelling itself into the desired low Earth orbit, and to be retrieved on a subsequent shuttle flight some months later. It carried long-term computer-controlled scientific experiments. Small thruster motors controlled its position and solar panels provided power. It was first launched, as Eureca-1, in Aug. 1992, for collection by the shuttle in mid-1993. Its 1-tonne payload consisted mainly of experiments on the growth, under microgravity, of large crystals of proteins, semiconductors, and zeolites. Eureca-1 was reckoned to be a great success, and ESA planned to launch five missions over the subsequent decade, but the plan came to nothing. A Eureca-2 mission was planned for 1995, but ESA ministerial meetings rejected further funding The Eureca craft was put into storage at the Bremen facilities of DASA, the aerospace subsidiary of the international automotive engineering firm DaimlerChrysler for possible use in commercial spaceflights.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006