Maser 13 payload recovery in 2015, Sweden.
Rockets carrying satellites into orbit are typically launched from sites around the equator, such as Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. There are alternatives for experiments in microgravity and ESA runs Maser campaigns from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden, shooting 400 kg worth of scientific equipment into the sky.
It only takes the Maser rocket 45 seconds to leave the atmosphere and it lands back on Earth in less than 15 minutes. Parachutes deploy to lessen the impact of touchdown to 30 km/h in the wilderness of Sweden.
One experiment on this flight was XRMON that also flew on the Maser 12 campaign in 2012, but with different parameters allowing researchers to compare data and the cast alloy to further improve techniques.
The flights are part of ESA’s SciSpace programme that allows researchers to run experiments in altered gravity – from hypergravity to the International Space Station – to investigate our Universe and improve the technology we use in space and in everyday life.