Europe is preparing for launching its largest sounding rocket on April 6, from Esrange Space Center. This will mark the first time in seven years in which SSC is launching a MAXUS rocket carrying a payload that will provide microgravity conditions during 12 minutes to scientific research experiments.
MAXUS 9 will carry four scientific experiment modules. The main purpose of the different experiments is to investigate different materials and processes in microgravity. One example is the XRMON experiment. Two small furnaces containing metal samples are mounted in the rocket module. The samples are melted before flight and as soon microgravity is reached the different melts are set in contact with each other so that the mixing can be observed.
Six such sample pairs will be processed during flight, at two different temperatures, 1200 and 1560 C. The metal samples are X-rayed and thus we can observe the process in real time during the flight as we will be sending parts of the digital image down to the ground over radio link. The aim of the research is to understand fundamental processes in metal alloys, to be able to develop materials that are very light and sustainable.
The MAXUS program is a joint venture between SSC and Airbus DS. The principle customer is the European Space Agency (ESA). The rocket provides an efficient and reliable access to high quality microgravity.
MAXUS 9 rocket measures 15.5 meters long, including payload and motor. The motor is now in place on the launch pad at Esrange Space Center, waiting to lift off.
The MAXUS sounding rocket program was funded by Airbus DS and SSC in 1990 as an industrial joint venture. ESA has been the single user of the program since the very beginning, financed through the European Program for Life and Physical Science in Space (ELIPS). MAXUS carries 4-5 Scientific experiment modules of a total mass of up to 575 kg. The experiment modules are developed by SSC and Airbus DS under ESA contract.
The MAXUS 9 project started in 2013 and will be the tenth MAXUS mission launched from Esrange Space Center. SSC founded in 1972, covers the global market through its offices in Sweden, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, USA, Chile, Australia, China and Thailand, along with the global network of ground stations.