The ESA article states, 'It all started in the early 1990s, when German engineer Paul Mirow was working on Europe's Hermes spaceplane at Technical University Berlin. Hermes was planned as a reusable manned vehicle launched on Ariane 5.'
And, 'To map the pressure distribution on the wings as Hermes returned through the atmosphere, a new sensor was needed because regular instruments were too bulky and added unrealistic drag. So Paul's team turned to a special 'piezoelectric' foil to do the job.'
Paul explains, 'The piezoelectric foil is very thin, about 30 microns - a third of the thickness of a human hair.'
The Hermes spaceplane was initially proposed and designed by the French space agency called French Centre National d'Ã‰tudes Spatiales (CNES) in 1975.
The European Space Agency later took over the project with the help of the CNES. The Hermes project was planned to be the European version of the U.S. space shuttle.
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