Microgravity for up to 14 minutes

The MAXUS programme is a joint venture between SSC and Astrium Space Transportation used by ESA. It provides an efficient and reliable access to high quality microgravity.


MAXUS is launched from SSC’s launch facility Esrange Space Center outside Kiruna. An experienced team runs MAXUS and the concept offers frequent flight opportunities, subsystems and experiment modules for microgravity research.

Technical characteristics

Apogee: > 700 km
Microgravity: up to 14 minutes
Payload mass: up to 785 kg

Experiment modules

The payload can consist of five to eight independent experiment modules, and related service systems. The total mass of the experiment part (including TV-transmitters) of the payload is about 480 kg. The modules have a diameter of 640 mm. The experiments can, if required, be accessed until about one hour before lift-off. Customers are welcome to fly their own modules on MAXUS or to use equipment developed and manufactured by SSC or Astrium ST. Existing modules are readily available on rental basis. New modules and hardware can be developed on request.

Rocket system

MAXUS uses a single-stage solid propellant rocket (Castor IV B or equivalent) with four fins. The Guidance Control System controls the flight of the rocket by means of thrust vector control. The Tracking and Telemetry Unit contains the motor telemetry system. The Interstage Adapter connects the rocket motor to the payload and encloses the re-entry cone. It contains the separation unit, the ignition and thrust termination control and the radar transponder. With a nominal payload mass, MAXUS reaches an apogee of more than 700 km.

Service system

The service system on MAXUS includes:
• The rate/attitude control system which controls the microgravity quality and orientation of the payload relative to the ground stations
• The parachute system which assures safe recovery of the payload
• The service module which provides telemetry and telecommand to the experiments
• The TV modules which transmit pictures to the ground during flight.


A parachute system is used for land recovery. The payload speed at landing is less than 10 m/s. The payload is transported back to the launch site by helicopter. The complete payload is back at the launch site about one hour after launch. Early recovery of biological samples can be made at the landing site within half an hour to one hour after launch.

Download a model of the MAXUS rocket


Science Services-contacts

Lennart Poromaa
Tel. +46 980 720 59

Mattias Abrahamsson
Director, Business Development
Tel +46 980 720 06