In a quest to become a one of the top space players, the European Space Agency is developing a vehicle to test new reentry technologies–systems that will allow a safe return to Earth from orbit.
The European spacecraft, called the Intermediate eXperiment Vehicle or IXV, has a unique aeroshape
design, advanced thermal protection, and new guidance, navigation and control
systems. It is expected to launch in 2012. The video below describes the
project and you can read more technical details here.