This Is Europe's Answer To The Space Taxi, And It's Beautiful

This menacing looking craft is the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, it's an unmanned test craft that'll lay the foundations for a crew delivery vehicle or 'space taxi' that the ESA will use to transport astronauts to and from Earth orbit.

The IXV will be used as part of an hour long test mission on 11 February which will see it launch to an altitude of 412 km at which point it will reach a speed of 7.5 km/s.

Once at speed it'll begin the descent back to Earth, safely reenter and then be recovered near Panama by ESA's recovery team.

Costing around $150m the IXV is packed full of sensors so the team can log and analyse everything that takes place from how the craft handled to thruster performance.

It's actually rather beautiful as well; simple in design you'd be forgiven for drawing comparisons between the ship and Christopher Nolan's interpretation in the space epic 'Interstellar'.

While one is purely science fiction however, the IXV is very real, and very cool.