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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Airbus-built TEXUS sounding rockets take to the skies to conduct experiments in microgravity

TEXUS 60 successfully lifted off from Esrange Space Centre in Kiruna, Sweden - Copyright Airbus
TEXUS 60 successfully lifted off from Esrange Space Centre in Kiruna, Sweden - Copyright Airbus

The TEXUS 60 rocket was successfully launched on Sunday 24 March, at 10:45 CET, from Esrange Space Centre in Kiruna, Sweden, with two DLR experiments and a JAXA/DLR experiment onboard. The rocket reached an apogee of 251 km and provided 362 seconds of microgravity time.


The previous mission, the TEXUS 59 rocket successfully lifted off on 15 February with two ESA experiments and one DLR experiment on board. 


This represents a double success generating an enormous amount of data to support scientists in carrying out biological, material science and physical experiments in order to enable experiments in zero gravity in space.


Airbus engineers from different disciplines develop, integrate and test the experimental equipment. In collaboration with customers and scientific teams, they establish experimental concepts. Breadboard tests are conducted to support design decisions. Depending on the results, further tests may be required to determine or verify critical parameters of the experiment before launch. Design reviews with customers ensure that their requirements are fully met.


Airbus develops the TEXUS rockets, from the mission concept and engine procurement to data recovery. During a TEXUS launch, the rocket reaches a peak altitude of around 260 kilometres. The flight from take-off to landing takes around 15 minutes. For six minutes, near weightlessness is achieved, which is only about one ten-thousandth of the Earth's normal gravity.


The programme plays an important role in preparing experiments for the International Space Station (ISS). It is the world's most successful and longest-running programme for sounding rockets - the first TEXUS rocket was launched back in 1977.

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