The S.4

The Supermarelli was a series of conceptual and test space shuttles built by Marelli S.p.A from the 1950s to the 1960s.

Background and history

Europa and especially the Europa Space Agency was interested in space exploration due to its many viabilities. Soon though, the Armed Forces of Europa began to take interest and military vehicles were being proposed. Under ESA chairman Francesco Buonanotte (in office from 1957-1964) the program kicked off and several spacecraft designs were being worked on


Supermarelli S.1

The S.1 was the first conceptual model made. Beginning in late 1957, ESA scientists and designers made detailed plans on a plane, but mathematicians determined that it would not take off. A 1/72 scale model was made, which resides in the National Aviation Museum in Trieste, Europa.

Supermarelli S.2

The S.2 of 1958 was an improvement of the earlier S.1. This one was made much lighter but only in 1/8 scale. The scale-model S.2 was launched on August 23, 1958 but burned up due to insufficiently reinforced materials.

Supermarelli S.3

The S.3 was a study made in 1960 with three plans and two clay models.

Supermarelli S.4

The S.4 was the first serious attempt at a space vehicle by the ESA. Work began in 1961 by the leading scientists and mathematicians of Europa and even some foreigners worked on the project. The S.4 was small but had an advanced design/layout. Scale model tests were successfully conducted and the real one was launched from a Atalanta Rocket in May 1964. This unmanned shuttle shot up to 51 miles above earth’s surface before it peaked. Its Parachutes did not release and the S.4 fell into the Adriatic Sea. Subsequent mission to recover it have failed and it still lies underwater.

Supermarelli S.5

The S.5 was a second S.4 with landing gear. Astronauts Vincenzo Martini and Stefan Vidic took off from a V2 Atalanta in 1966 and managed to pass the Karman Line (62 miles above) before commencing the landing operations. The event was broadcast on TV worldwide and people clinged to their seats waiting to see what happened. Over Albania the shuttle began to break up but it luckily fell into a lake, saving the astronauts. After this, the Supermarelli program was scrapped.

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