Student experiments take to the skies with REXUS 15 and 16
Almost fifty University students will take part in the latest REXUS launch campaign. Based at the SSC Esrange Space Center, northern Sweden, the students will use the next two weeks to ready their experiments and then launch them into the stratosphere.
The students began work at Esrange on 20 May. This is the culmination of 1.5 years of work. The teams were chosen 18 months ago to have a place on the flights, and have been working since them to develop their experiments.
Of the 46 students taking part, half were the chosen by the German Space Agency (DLR). The other half were chosen by the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) and ESA. The students are split across eight teams.
The SNSB/ESA teams consist of four experiments:
CWIS was developed and built by the Free University of Brussels, Belgium and the University of Naples Frederico II, Italy. It is designed to visualize the chemical wave produced thanks to the Soret effect in a binary mixture. The Soret effect is where small, and therefore light, molecules separate from large, therefore heavier, molecules due to the presence of a thermal gradient.
LOW-GRAVITY, from the Polytechnical University of Bucharest, Romania, is designed to investigate the surface deformation of alloys and metals after they have been melted and welded in miligravity. It will compare these results with those achieved in Earth-based laboratories.
ISAAC is the experiment that has been built by the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden. It is an engineering project that will test a new ejection system for two free falling units.
StrathSat-R2 has been built by University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom and aims to eject two CubeSats that each deploys a different inflatable structure. One is a solar sail and the other is a dynamic structure that adapts to varying conditions.
In addition to these experiments, four more will be supplied by DLR’s chosen student teams.
The last eighteen months have been a busy time for the students. Since the selection of their experiments, they have been building and testing them with support from experts at SSC, the Centre of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA), DLR, SNSB and ESA.
REXUS/BEXUS stands for Rocket/Balloon Experiments for University Students. This German/Swedish programme allows students from universities across ESA member and cooperating states to carry out scientific and technological experiments on research sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons.
Since 2008, the programme has been annual. Two rockets and two balloons are launched every year, carrying up to 20 experiments designed and built by student teams.
The first week of the REXUS 15 and 16 launch campaign will consist of final checks, and loading of the experiments into the rockets. The compatibility of each experiment will be checked too, in order that they do not interfere with each other.
The peak altitude of each flight is between 80-90 kilometres. Weather permitting the launches will take place in the second week of the campaign. The first launch window for REXUS 15 is foreseen to open on 27 May and for REXUS 16, it is 29 May.
A call for new experiment proposals will be issued on 16 June 2014, with a deadline for submission of mid-October.
The REXUS / BEXUS programme is realised under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). The Swedish share of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
EuroLaunch, a cooperation between the Esrange Space Center of SSC and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for the campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles. Experts from DLR, SSC, ZARM and ESA provide technical support to the student teams throughout the project.