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High-altitude student experiments wanted

29/06/2015 1619 views 12 likes
ESA / Education

The Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) and the German Space Agency (DLR) in collaboration with ESA are again offering university students the chance to send their experiments into the stratosphere or mesosphere. The REXUS/BEXUS (Rocket/Balloon Experiments for University Students) programme is open for proposals. To qualify, students must be enrolled in universities from ESA member or cooperating states*.

REXUS experiments are carried on a sounding rocket into the mesosphere between 75-90 km in altitude. As they fall back to Earth, they can provide two minutes of reduced gravity. Each rocket can carry around 40kg of payload in total. The REXUS 21 and 22 flights offered in this call will launch in spring 2017.

BEXUS experiments are carried on a stratospheric balloon into the stratosphere, which floats at an altitude of 20-30km for 2-5 hours. Each balloon can carry 40-100kg of payload in total. The BEXUS 22 and 23 flights offered in this call for proposals will take to the skies in autumn 2016. 

Both rocket and balloon launch campaigns will launch the Esrange Space Center, located outside Kiruna, Northern Sweden.

Students at the Rexus 18 and 19 launch campaign
Students at the Rexus 18 and 19 launch campaign

To apply to the programme an experiment proposal has to be prepared and uploaded on the ESA Education Office's project portal before 19 October 2015. German student teams should apply via the parallel call for proposals from DLR.

The SNSB/ESA teams behind the best proposals will be invited to attend a 3-day selection workshop at ESA-ESTEC, The Netherlands, starting on 1 December 2015. Up to 15 teams will be invited to participate. Here students will present their project to a panel of experts and justify why their experiment should fly on a balloon or rocket.

For the experiment to be selected it will have to show scientific or technological value, a good likelihood of success, educational value and also be able to justify the need for a stratospheric balloon or a sounding rocket flight.

Bexus team working on their final assembly
Bexus team working on their final assembly

Up to 10 teams will be selected at this workshop from the SNSB/ESA applications. A similar number of German teams will be selected separately by the DLR Space Administration.

Each selected team receives a 'flight ticket'. This grants them a 'seat' on the required vehicle providing they pass a number of key milestones: the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) which will take place in conjunction with a training week at the Esrange Space Center; the Critical Design Review (CDR), which occurs at ESA-ESTEC for the BEXUS teams and at DLR-Oberpfaffenhofen for the REXUS teams; Integration Progress Review (IPR), which happens at the teams’ university; the Experiment Acceptance Review (EAR), which again takes place at the teams’ university; for REXUS there is an additional testing phase that must be successfully completed; finally there is the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) at the Esrange Space Center before launch.

This ensures that the students undergo a realistic space project life cycle with all the major milestones. They are offered assistance at all stages by experts in sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons. This strict process is one that the students come to appreciate and value.

More information can be found at

Notes for editors:

The REXUS/BEXUS programme is realized under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). Through the collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Swedish share has been made available to students from all ESA Member or Cooperating States.

* ESA Member States in 2015
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Canada (Associate Member) 

European Cooperating States
Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia

Cooperating states
Cyprus, Malta

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