Completed, Rocket Missions


January 14, 2022

MAPHEUS 9 rocket launched on 29 January. Read the whole article: Another MAPHEUS launched – all systems worked perfectly 


The name of the MAPHEUS research rocket stands for “Materialphysikalische Experimente unter Schwerelosigkeit” (material physics experiments at zero gravity).

Every year the German Aerospace Center (DLR) launches a MAPHEUS research rocket with a payload developed and supervised by the Institute of Materials Physics in Space (MP). The secondary payload is managed by the Institute for Aerospace Medicine.

The Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of Space Operations and Astronaut Training (RB) provides the payload support systems and launch service of the sounding rocket which – in case of MAPHEUS 9 – provides a microgravity environment for 6 min above 100 km altitude for its four experiments onboard.


General information

Launch Site Esrange Space Center
Launch period 29th January - 7th of Feburary
Rocket type IM/IM
Project managers SSC: Maria Snäll DLR: Prof. Dr. Thomas Voigtmann

MAPHEUS 9 Payload

The study of soft-matter characteristics relies on a common set of diagnostics. Owing to their mesoscopic structure and soft mechanical properties, visible-light microscopy combined with particle tracking, static and dynamic light scattering, and microfluidic/microrheology techniques are most useful, possibly also combined to obtain complementary information. Hence, with a limited set of experimental concepts, a wide range of physical properties in a wide range of physical model systems can be addressed. In Somex, a modular experiment environment is developed that is suitable to be used on microgravity platforms such as the MAPHEUS sounding rocket, and that consists of interchangeable soft-matter sample cells that can be combined with different optical measurement devices.
The experiment uses selective laser sintering of metals in microgravity. In this manufacturing process thin layers of a metallic powder are applied and selectively sintered to the printed body by laser irradiation. Layering and sintering are performed alternating until the product is complete. Besides space-proofing this technology in general, the most challenging task in a Iow- or microgravity environment is to handle the raw metal powder properly and to apply a high quality powder layer. With fewer or even no gravity there is no driving force for the powder to form dense packed layer until sintering has been completed. The aim of the experiment is to validate the ‘assisted deposition’ of powder layers in microgravity, using different metal powders; with special interest to print parts from metallic glasses.
In collaboration with the Stiftung Tiermedizinische Hochschule Hannover and the University of La Trobe in Melbourne the experiment GRAVIPLAX is trying to understand the impact of gravity on cell polarity and cancer development. The organism we use in the Graviplax experiment is the simplest multicellular organism during evolution which builds an upper and lower cell epithel. Trichoplax adherens is also able to orientate in space by detecting gravity with specialized crystal cells. This experiment series is also a milestone in the collaboration between the DLR and Australian scientists from the La Trobe University in Melbourne.
GraScha 3.0
A container filled with glass beads is used as granular packing. In microgravity the pressure inside the packing is no longer determined by
the hydrostatic pressure but by a movable container wall. While the hydrostatic pressure is subject to a large gradient, the pressure in
microgravity is much more homogeneous. The wall position is adjusted by a microcontroller, enabling measurements of packings at very low pressure that are impossible to obtain in laboratories on ground. A voice-coil transmits acoustic waves traveling through this packing at different amplitudes, frequencies and arbitrary waveforms. Sensors embedded in the packing at different positions measure propagation speed and attenuation of these waves. Data acquisition is performed on a mini pc, which is also used to set the measurement parameters. The transmission of short pulses is measured to probe the transition from linear waves (with constant speed of sound) to strongly-nonlinear waves (with amplitude dependent propagation speed). Hereby, the parameter range is spanning several orders of magnitude of static pressure and sound pressure. The transmission of multiply scattered waves is measured to probe disorder in the packing’s force distribution. Lowering the packing pressure by two orders of magnitude below the pressure achievable on ground gives us the opportunity to measure the pressure dependence of the sound speed in a low pressure range where established models may no longer be valid.

Contact Information

Prof. Dr. Thomas Voigtmann, DLR

Alexander Kallenbach, DLR

Dr. Jens Hauslage, DLR

Maria Snäll, SSC Esrange Space Center

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