Call for proposals for sounding rocket and balloon flights
The ESA Education Office has today issued a call for proposals for student experiments to be flown on two REXUS sounding rockets and two BEXUS stratospheric balloons.
Selected student teams will have the opportunity to design and build an experiment suitable for a flight on the BEXUS 8 and 9 balloons that will be launched in October 2009, or the REXUS 7 and 8 sounding rockets, to be launched in March 2010. All flights will take place from Kiruna in Northern Sweden.
Each flight will carry a payload consisting solely of student experiments. Half the payload is available to German students through a DLR Announcement of Opportunity and the other half is made available to students from all other ESA Member States and Co-operating States* by the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) through a collaboration with ESA.
This series of flights will follow on from the most recent set of REXUS/BEXUS experiments, which are scheduled to fly in the coming months. The BEXUS 6 and 7 stratospheric balloons, carrying five ESA-sponsored experiments, will be launched from Kiruna in October 2008, while the REXUS 5 and 6 sounding rockets, carrying three ESA-sponsored experiments, are due to be launched in March or April 2009.
“The 2007 call for proposals proved to be very popular, so we are expecting a large response this time,” said Helen Page of ESA’s Education Office. “The flights offer wonderful opportunities for student teams to design, build and fly their experiments. The winners will also enjoy the experience of visiting Kiruna and the Ice Hotel, beyond the Arctic Circle, with the possible bonus of seeing the aurora borealis.”
Applications and selection
The deadline for applications is 17 November 2008. More information can be found at www.rexusbexus.net and applications should be submitted at www.joinspace.org. The flight opportunity is open to students aged between 18 and 28 at the time of the application deadline. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or PhD student in a university located in an ESA Member State or Co-operating State*. They must also be studying or researching a subject in a relevant field of science or engineering. (N.B. German students should apply to the parallel DLR call for proposals.)
The best 12-15 team proposals will be shortlisted and announced on 19 December 2008. The shortlisted teams will then be invited to a workshop at ESTEC during the first week of February 2009 to present their proposals to experts from ESA and Esrange. The final selection will be made by the team of experts, immediately after the workshop.
The selected teams will be invited to a training week in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany at the end of March 2009. A preliminary design review of each experiment will be carried out during this week by experts from Esrange. Students will be expected to build their experiments during the summer of 2009 (in the case of BEXUS) and up to the end of 2009 (in the case of REXUS).
ESA will sponsor up to four team members from each team to attend the following:
- the selection workshop at ESTEC;
- the training week in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany;
- the flight campaign.
All costs related to the rockets, balloons and launches are covered under the bilateral Agency Agreement between SNSB and DLR regarding the REXUS and BEXUS programmes. Esrange experts will provide technical support in the integration and testing phase, as well as providing campaign management and operations. Students will be responsible for funding the development of the experiments and their shipment to Esrange, in collaboration with their universities or other sponsors.
REXUS (Rocket-borne Experiments for University Students) is an annual sounding rocket programme. BEXUS (Balloon-borne Experiments for University Students) is an annual experimental flight with a stratospheric balloon.
REXUS is an unguided, spin-stabilised, solid-propellant, single stage rocket. The vehicle has a length of 5.6 m and a diameter of 35.6 cm and the total available mass for student experiments is about 30 kg.
The BEXUS balloon has a volume of 12,000 m³ and a diameter of 14 m when filled. The total mass available for the experiments is between 40 and 100 kg. The maximum altitude is 35 km and the flight duration is 2-5 hours.
The REXUS / BEXUS programme was approved in 2007 for a duration of 5 years. This period encompasses three overlapping cycles of activity, each of which begins with a Call for Proposals and culminates in the launch of the experiments and publication of the final reports. A third call for proposals will be issued in September 2009.
* The 17 ESA Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Canada, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic participate in some ESA projects under cooperation agreements