Successful launch of Texus 43 sounding rocket
The Texus 43 sounding rocket was successfully launched from the Esrange launch site in northern Sweden last week. The rocket provided almost six minutes of weightlessness for the three ESA-funded experiment modules on board.
Following the launch at 10:12 Central European Summer Time on Thursday 11 May, the rocket climbed to a height of 237 km before falling back to Earth.
The 407 kg payload, which included two experiments in biology, and one looking at flame propagation in microgravity, was recovered from the landing site and returned by helicopter to Esrange just 75 minutes after lift-off. "We had a nominal flight and another perfect recovery of a totally undamaged payload," said Wolfgang Herfs, ESA's project manager.
Two of the three experiment modules worked perfectly during the flight, while there were some problems with the flame experiment. "During the flight all functions of the module worked as designed except the ignition of the two samples", explained Herfs. A failure analysis will follow for this experiment, whilst the detailed analysis of samples from the two biology experiments will be performed in the home lab of the scientists.
The primary aim of the Texus sounding rocket programme is to perform physical science and life science experiments in a microgravity environment. EADS-Space Transportation in Bremen, Germany, manages the programme, which has ESA and German Space Agency DLR is its main users.