“Why do we need microgravity?”
Airbus's TEXUS sounding rocket program opens up a unique opportunity for scientists to conduct experiments in a microgravity environment for a brief six-minute period. Since its inaugural launch in December 1977, a diverse range of experiment modules spanning various fields such as biology, medicine, life science, fluid physics, fluid dynamics, combustion, and material science have been successfully launched from the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna in northern Sweden. Over the past 46 years, 6 MiniTEXUS, 58 TEXUS, and 9 MAXUS missions have been successfully executed for the German Space Agency (DLR RFA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) as the primary customers.
The presentation aims to offer an overview of the TEXUS sounding rocket program and provide insights into the motivation of microgravity research.
At the core of Airbus's role in this program is the development of experiment hardware. A key factor contributing to the program's enduring success is the streamlined development cycle, beginning from the initial engagement with scientists, through design and development tests, up to the approval of the experiment hardware for flight. Another critical aspect is the standardization of key components and subsystems.
A permanent challenge is the ongoing modernization of established systems to meet the ever-increasing demands from customers and the scientific community. Proven hardware becomes obsolete, necessitating replacement with new technologies. This applies to all elements of a sounding rocket mission: experiments, communication systems, supporting ground infrastructure for the integration and test phase, and launch operations.
The presentation will conclude by sharing insights from the latest launch campaigns.
Andreas Schütte, Program Manager Suborbital Missions, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Bremen