Introduction to Microgravity
Tutorial on Microgravity Research

Tutorial on Microgravity Research


International level

There are a certain number of foreign organizations offering access to microgravity via their own sounding rockets. They include the following.

The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), with the MASER and MAXUS rockets . MASER is a result of international cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies, Inc. and the Netherlands.

The MAXUS program is a joint venture between the SSC and DASA of Germany.

In addition to the above programs, the European Space Agency (ESA) also sponsors the flight of European experiments in the German TEXUS and MINITEXUS sounding rocket programs. The launch campaigns for all four programs take place at the launch site ESRANGE, near Kiruna in the north of Sweden.

In the TEXUS and MASER the apogee is between 250 to 300 km (155 to 186 miles) with a gross payload weight of 340 to 390 kg (910 to 1,045 lbs.) including 4 to 6 experiment-dedicated modules. This corresponds to a free-fall time of between 6 to 7 minutes with residual accelerations lower than 10-4 g.

A MINITEXUS rocket launches a scientific payload of typically 100 kg in mass (267 lbs.) to an apogee of about 140 km (87 miles), providing for some 180 seconds of free-fall conditions.

With a long-duration sounding rocket MAXUS, a gross payload of 780 kg (2,090 lbs.) including typically 6 experiment modules is propelled to an apogee of 715 km (444 miles). The MAXUS rocket offers between 12 to 14 minutes of microgravity.

Bristol Aerospace Ltd. (Canada), a Magellan Aerospace company, offers the Black Brandt family of sounding rockets, considered to be the best in the industry. The Black Brandt sounding rockets are used for studying the upper atmosphere and microgravity research. Bristol is also involved in the development, manufacture, integration and packaging of space payloads for sounding rockets and NASAs space shuttle program .

The table below is a partial list of International Suborbital Rockets

International: Maxus
Canada: Black Brant
France: Eole, Veronique and Vesta, The Precious Stones, From Belier to Sheridan, Berenice & its Descendants, Cora
Germany: OTRAG
Italy: SISPRE Rockets, Alfa Vehicle
Spain: INTA 255 and 300
Switzerland: Zenit
United Kingdom: Black Knight, Jaguar, Skylark, Skua and Petrel, Fulmar, Falstaf