The European Space Agency’s Maxus 5 sounding rocket mission was successfully launched on 1 April 2003 from Esrange, north of the Arctic Circle near Kiruna in northern Sweden. Maxus 5 reached an apogee of 701 km and provided 12 minutes of microgravity. The payload consisted of five microgravity experiments, all funded by ESA.
Our experiments, developped by Astrium, look at the effect of vibration on the behavior of granular matter and supercritical fluids in microgravity.More about these experiments will be avaible online soon (see a movie of our granular experiment during microgravity)
|Watch the launch
This rocket was launched from Sweden in 1998 in order to study Granular Mediums in low-gravity environment. It leads to the first observation of clustering formation due to the inelastic collisions between particles. Results have been published in Physical Review Letters [see also here or in the ESA Database (Erasmus Experiment Archive)].
See the Items from the scientific american press (Science, Science News, Physics News...) about this paper.
Cluster formation in a granular gas fluidized by vibrations in low-gravity. (the density increases from right to left)
The TEXUS Sounding Rocket Programme (Technologische EXperimente Unter Schwerelosigkeit) was initiated in 1976 by the German Ministry for Research and Development. With a gross payload weight of typically 360 kg, an apogee of 260 km is reached, and microgravity conditions are achieved during 370 seconds.
The Mini-TEXUS programme was initiated in 1993 to satisfy the demand of investigators for microgravity duration in the range of three to four minutes, at lower costs. The Mini-TEXUS rockets employ two-stage solid fuel motors (first stage: Nike, second stage: Orion) from military surplus equipment. They permit launch a 100 kg scientific payload to an altitude of 150 km, thereby providing microgravity conditions for 200 seconds .
Source: Facilities for Microgravity Investigations in Physical Sciences supported by ESA, esa SP-1116 (Revision 2); ISBN 92-9092-036-X; ESA Publications Division, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
The MAXUS long-duration sounding rocket programme is a joint venture of DASA-RI and the Swedish Space Corporation. This programme was initiated in 1990 to extend the microgravity duration capability in Europe to the range of 10-15 minutes. For MAXUS, a single stage solid-fuel rocket motor Castor 4B is used to launch a gross payload of typically 780 kg to an apogee of about 715 km. This corresponds to some 13 minutes of microgravity conditions. The first successful MAXUS payload was launched in autumn 1992.