European Sounding Rocket Blasts Off from Sweden

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A European Texus suborbital sounding rocket carrying microgravity experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA) was successfully launched Nov. 22 from northern Sweden’s Esrange facility, providing six minutes and 28 seconds of low-gravity conditions, according to launch campaign managers.

Launch-site officials from the Swedish Space Centre and payload managers from Kayser-Threde of Munich, Germany, said the 12.4-meter-tall rocket reached an altitude of 252.23 kilometers. Kayser-Threde said in a Nov. 23 statement that the payload module was recovered quickly after touchdown and that early evaluation confirmed the mission’s “complete success.”

The 47th Texus rocket is scheduled to launch from the Esrange facility before the end of the year carrying experiments for the German aerospace center, DLR. DLR and ESA are the principal sponsors of Texus, which has been in operation since the late 1970s and is managed in part by EADS Astrium. Since 2005, the rocket has been using Brazil’s VSB-30 motor.