Rocket Mission

MAPHEUS-14 first rocket from Esrange using new Red Kite motor

February 27, 2024
MAPHEUS-14 first rocket from Esrange using new Red Kite motor

On the 27th of February at 07.27 UTC the MAPHEUS 14 sounding rocket was successfully launched from Esrange Space Center in Kiruna. This was also the first voyage with the brand new Red Kite rocket motor which indicates a start of a new era for European sounding rockets.

The rocket is operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and reached an apogee of 265 km, where the scientific experiments onboard were conducted under microgravity conditions. The launch was successful, and the payload could be recovered in perfect conditions within an hour after liftoff.

Among the experiments were advanced material science and biological science on both human and animal cells, to find out how the brain and the central nervous system is affected by microgravity.

“I am very happy with the campaign and the launch of MAPHEUS 14. The scientists have put a lot of effort into being ready for launch today as we had perfect settings and launch conditions that we did not want to miss out on. Our SSC team and DLR has together supported this seamlessly. It is always a pleasure to work together with DLR and this time on a completely new rocket motor combination. A big thank you to all involved” says Elin Lundqvist, campaign manager at SSC.

Maiden launch for Red Kite motor

MAPHEUS 14 was also the first sounding rocket from Esrange using the newly developed German rocket motor Red Kite. The new motor, which was tested at Esrange last summer is a collaboration between DLR and Bayern-Chemie. The second stage of the rocket used an Improved Malemute, manufactured by Bayern-Chemie.

The fact that a European rocket motor is now available indicates many benefits for both SSC and our customers. Transport to the launch site and availability among others, are significantly improved when the motors are manufactured within the EU.

”The Red Kite motor is a good example of cooperation between industry and research. Now we have our own motor, a second source that was designed according to our flight profile. It fits perfectly for the demands we have. That is really an advantage now” says Dr. Prof. Felix Huber, Director Space Operations and Astronaut Training at the German Aerospace Center.

Swedish-German collaboration in shared module

SSC had a Shared Module onboard the MAPHEUS rocket which housed seven different scientific and technical experiments from Australia, Sweden and Germany. The Shared Module provides access to professional sounding rocket missions with microgravity environment within the SubOrbital Express program.

“I want to thank our partners in the DLR MAPHEUS team for great collaboration as well as all the scientists that I know have been working very hard with the payload. A big thank you also to the researchers who have worked on the experiments in our Shared Module” says Stefan Krämer, project manager Shared Module at SSC.

General information MAPHEUS 14

Launch Site Esrange Space Center
Launch period 24 February - 1 March 2024
Launched 07.27 (UTC) 27 February 2024
Rocket type RK-IM (Red Kite and Improved Malemute motor combination)
Payload mass 442,8 kg
Apogeum 265.2 km
Campaign partners DLR, DLR MORABA, DLR Medical Experiments, DLR Institute for material physics, SSC, Astronomisk Ungdom,
Project managers SSC: Elin Lundqvist – DLR: Thomas Voigtmann – DLR Moraba: Alexander Kaltenbach

Experiments onboard

COSMO Collaborative Science Module for MORABA internal experiments, with the purpose to proof the flightworthiness of certain components. It is developed by and for MORABA.
ROMS The experiment studies the development and network of neuronal cells in a model under microgravity conditions. Living human stem cells (iPS) experience microgravity and post flight the RNA sequence will be studied, among others to investigate how the human brain is affected by space flights.
SOMEX SOMEX provides an experiment of colloidal nanoparticle suspensions, to study soft-matter systems. This comprices a large class of materials from granular matter, foams, biological tissues and cell or bacteria colonies.
NyMex The experiment aim to investigate the influence of gravity on membrane fluidity using fluorescence polarization measurements on giant unilamellar visicles.
LIFT The Laminar Inflight Fixation Technology (LIFT) was designed to enable the fast and reliable chemical fixation of biological samples during different phases of a sounding rocket flight. Two types of biolgical samples will be fixated in formaldehyde directly after the launch hypergravity phase as well as following the microgravity phase. The fixated cells can be used for biochemical, transcriptomic, and microscopic analyses to investigate changes in cell morphology, gene expression, and protein content. The cells which will be investigated are induced human neurons (iNGNs) and induced human motorneurons which are grown on polymer slides to be inserted onto the LIFT payload.
MIND-G The BIODECODER experiment aims to constantly monitor electrophysiological activity of live neuronal cells during the entire flight using an experiment platform with an integrated multi-electrode array (MEA) and cellular life-support.
MiniPlax (SSC shared module) In colaboration with the Stiftung Tiermedizinische Hochschule Hannover the experiment MiniPLax is trying to understand the impact of gravity on cell polarity and cancer development.
DEIMOS (SSC shared module) The aim of the experiment is to verify the accelerations of individual conductive powder particles caused by induction. In addition, the movements of the powder within the coil can be observed. The main objective is to investigate the applicability of the powder stabilization method in a possible use in a powder-based additive manufacturing process.
AURORE-II (SSC shared module) Experiment by the Swedish Astronomical Youth Association (Astronomisk Ungdom) built with school students in an local educational program on space education. The experiment will show the effect of microgravity on liquids.
ADI-ECHO incl ANT-61 (SSC shared module) System provided by Australian Start-Up company ResearchSat (Adelaide, Australia) containing two experiments. 1. Flight and monitoring of biological cells with focus on effects triggered by microgravity. 2. Flight test of contingency communication unit based on IRIDIUM for Cubesats and small satellites (ANT-61).
CeMIR (SSC shared module) Investigation on bone muscle cells and influence of microgravity effects by Karolinska Institute Stockholm.
RADICALS (SSC shared module) Test of conceptual radiation shield for long term space missions based on induced electromagnetic fields by Royal Melbourne University of Technology (RMIT), Australia. The experiment was designed and built by University Students.

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