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TEXUS rockets propel scientific research with recent successful launches
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TEXUS rockets propel scientific research with recent successful launches
by Erica Marchand
Paris, France (SPX) Apr 01, 2024

On March 24, 2024, the Airbus-managed TEXUS 60 sounding rocket embarked on its mission from Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, at precisely 10:45 CET. This launch successfully achieved an apogee of 251 kilometers, facilitating 362 seconds of invaluable microgravity conditions. Onboard were critical experiments from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), including Simona and GECO, in addition to a collaborative effort with the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), dubbed Phoenix 2.

Within the brief window of microgravity, Simona undertook a pivotal study on the behavior of liquid alloys in the absence of gravity, aiming to refine materials used in automotive engine bearings. Concurrently, GECO explored calcium's role in plant life under microgravity conditions, a step forward in securing food sources for space habitation. Phoenix 2 delved into the dynamics of droplet combustion, a research area with implications for a wide array of propulsion and energy generation technologies.

The preceding TEXUS 59 mission, launched on February 15, also from Esrange, carried two experiments from the European Space Agency (ESA), Safari and T-REX, along with DLR's Topoflame. Safari's focus on crystal growth presents potential advancements in pharmaceuticals and agriculture, while T-REX's insights into immune cell behavior under microgravity could influence disease treatment and prevention. Topoflame explored fire safety in reduced gravity, critical for future astronautical missions.

Airbus's role extends beyond mere facilitation; as the prime contractor, it oversees the TEXUS program's entirety-from initial design and payload integration to data analysis and recovery. This comprehensive involvement ensures that experiments not only achieve their scientific objectives but also contribute to the program's legacy of innovation and discovery.

The significance of the TEXUS program lies in its accessibility to the scientific community, offering a unique platform for conducting a variety of experiments under microgravity conditions. These missions provide essential data for future space exploration and offer insights with direct applications on Earth, in fields ranging from medicine to environmental science.

By operating at the intersection of science and technology, sounding rockets like TEXUS play a pivotal role in expanding our understanding of the universe. They enable rapid, cost-effective research that informs and enhances both terrestrial and extraterrestrial endeavors.

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