The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has successfully launched 400 kilograms of scientific experiments into space aboard the Maser 14 sounding rocket for the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Maser 14 rocket was launched from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden at 06:52 UTC this morning. Just 45 seconds after liftoff, the rocket’s upper stage left Earth’s atmosphere. After reaching an altitude of 244.8 kilometres, the rocket began its freefall back to Earth giving the experiments onboard six minutes of weightlessness. Approximately 15 minutes after it lifted off from Esrange, the rocket’s payload stage returned to Earth touching down under parachutes in the wilderness of Sweden.
“Helicopters will return the experiments to Esrange and the whole process will be completed in two hours, but the unique results typically give many years of data to process and analyse,” explained Antonio Verga, ESA’s head of non-Space Station payloads and platforms.
A total of four individual experiments were stacked one on top of the other in the upper payload section of the rocket. Starting from the closest to the payload adapter, the four experiments were the Surface Tension Tank, XRMON-GF2, ARLES and DUST.
According to a SSC press release, the four experiments aimed to study, “evaporating drops of pure fluids, drainage of liquids, directional solidification of a Al-Cu system by in-situ real-time X-ray radiography, and the nucleation of dust.”
Although not yet confirmed, it is believed that the experiments were recovered successfully following the launch.