A small Esrange rocket relieves high costs for simple weightless experiments in space.
Europe’s largest sounding rocket for experiments in microgravity, Maxus 8, was successfully launched last week from the Swedish Space Corporation’s (SSC) launch facility at Esrange Space Center in northernmost Sweden.
The rocket carried four scientific experiments and a technology demonstrator, weighing altogether 800 kg, to an altitude of 700 km. This enabled 12 minutes of stable microgravity. Descending by parachute, the payload landed safely within the impact area and was been recovered by helicopter.
Three of the four experiments were in the field of material science and a fourth biology science experiment was also onboard. During the flight the ground stations at Esrange communicated with the instruments onboard via telemetry and telecommand channels. The scientific data stored onboard was complemented on the ground by telemetry data and video feeds recorded during all phases of the flight.
SSC developed one of the experiment modules for material science, XRMON-Diffusion, which explored the diffusion process between two metal alloys in microgravity. For the first time, the experimental process was monitored by unique X-ray radiography during the microgravity phase.
“With the MAXUS 8 mission, ESA (the European Space Agency) continues its leading role in maintaining autonomous European microgravity platforms,” stated Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of Human Spaceflight at ESA, who added that such tests can effectively add to Europe's use of the International Space Station up to the year 2020 and beyond.
For more info, see www.ssc.se
Launch of Maxus 8. Photo: Patrik Eveborn, SSC. The rocket carried four experiments and reached an altitude of 700 km.