An unmanned rocket from the TEXUS series accomplished a scientific research flight last Saturday. It was launched at 9:30 a.m. CET from the European launch site ESRANGE in Kiruna in northern Sweden. During parabolic flight micro-gravitational conditions prevailed on board for approximately 6 minutes. This period is the essence of the TEXUS missions, since it enables tests on scien-tific and technological experiments to be conducted on board under space conditions. With an important task-share, OHB System AG has again contributed to the success of the mission.
For the TEXUS missions, OHB is responsible for the integration of experiments on board the rocket and for the service systems. The latter includes a salvaging system and a service module (with units for telemetry, tele-command, TV image transmission, payload motion control and µg measurements). At the launch site ground control centre, information on the current trajectory is provided by OHB via on-board GPS receivers. This enables experimenters to operate their experiments during the free-fall phase via tele-command. Five experiments from German universities and research facilities were selected for this mission.
With their contributions experts from OHB have been involved in all of the TEXUS missions up to now. Nevertheless, TEXUS missions are everything but routine. “Each mission is governed by its own laws because mission requirements vary, as well as the constraints for experiments. These factors have to be taken into consideration if the mission is to be a scientific success”, explains OHB Project Manager, Horst Pfeuffer. Even after 40 years, there is still room for technical improvement of the project. In the case of TEXUS-53, Horst Pfeuffer and his team developed a new antenna concept to test data transmission to ground control. This proved to be a success.
TEXUS-53 was implemented under contract from German Aerospace Center (DLR). OHB conducts its work-share in cooperation with the DLR Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) as sub-contractor to Airbus Defence and Space, Bremen. The national research pro-gramme TEXUS, which stands for “Technological Experiments under Microgravity” was established in 1976 by DLR Space Administration. TEXUS also serves the preparation of experiments destined for operation on the International Space Station (ISS). The next TEXUS missions 54/55 are planned for 2017.