Successful launch of MAPHEUS 12
"I give you a GO, a NO-GO, and I read you loud and clear." The countdown for the MAPHEUS 12 sounding rocket at Esrange in northern Sweden begins like this. All stations must check in and ensure that clear communication is possible. Then the process can begin. For MAPHEUS 12, this was planned to last five hours, during which the last modules are installed in the payload and the engines are ‘primed’, among other things.
In the end, the five-hour countdown became six. Further commotion was caused by a defective temperature sensor that was detected when one of the experiments on board was switched on for the first time.##markend## Had the control system failed as a result, it would have likely rendered the science experiment unusable. Fortunately, the supervising engineer, for whom MAPHEUS 12 is already his sixth campaign, was able to calmly and skilfully solve the problem. After three quarters of an hour of anxiety, it was clear: the show could go on.
Important decisions also had to be made regarding the weather. The helicopter pilots predicted a low chance of recovery on the day of take-off, due to very poor visibility in the landing area – just one to five metres. On the one hand, some of the experimenters needed their samples back as soon as possible, so launch and recovery could not be too far apart. On the other hand, launch conditions were likely to be poor in the coming days. With the hope that the recovery would likely take place the following day, the decision was made: today is launch day!
At 09:25 CEST, the time had come. We followed the take-off and the flight on the screens, unable to look away. Soon the tension in the group was released: MAPHEUS 12 flew well and made an almost-perfect landing. The rest will become clear when we have the payload back and begin analysing the data.
Thanks to a great team, where everyone involved showed incredible commitment and created a very special campaign feeling!!
You will find more information abou the launch in DLR's dedicated press release.
Thomas Voigtmann works at the DLR Institute of Materials Physics in Space and is project manager of the sounding rocket campaign MAPHEUS-D.
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