Rockets and balloons

The Ger­man/Swedish REXUS/BEXUS stu­dent project

Launch of a REXUS rocket
Launch of a REXUS rock­et
Image 1/2, Credit: SSC

Launch of a REXUS rocket

A REXUS rock­et launched from Kiruna in Swe­den.
Image 2/2, Credit: DLR/SNSB


The Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR) and the Swedish Na­tion­al Space Board (SNSB) joint­ly run the REXUS/BEXUS project to sup­port the younger gen­er­a­tion of en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) are jointly carrying out the REXUS/BEXUS programme to support the younger generation of engineers and scientists. This means that European students should be able to get practical experience in preparing and carrying out space exploration projects. Suggestions for experiments to be carried out in the gondola of a hot-air balloon (BEXUS - Balloon-Experiments for University Students) or on a sounding rocket (REXUS - Rocket-Experiments for University-Students) can be made each autumn. Suggestions are welcome until the end of the respective year.

On each occasion, 50 per cent of the rocket/balloon payload is available to students at German universities. SNSB makes the Swedish share of the project available to students from other ESA member states. The programme introduces students to the world of sounding rockets and balloons in an uncomplicated and cost-effective way, allowing them to perform independent scientific experiments.

The rocket and balloon flights are launched each year in Esrange, Kiruna, in the northwest of Sweden. Demonstration campaigns were previously held in 2004 and 2006 (REXUS-2 - 3, BEXUS-2 - 5).

Students performing research with rockets and balloons

The REXUS sounding rockets are particularly suited to atmospheric research and technological experiments. They can reach a height of approximately 100 km and offer several minutes of experiment time. An example of the exploration of the atmosphere is the IAP particle detector which was on the REXUS-3 rocket. The REGINA experiment was also jettisoned from the payload during the free-flight phase of this rocket. The aim of this joint experiment conducted by the University of the German Armed Forces and the Marssociety e.V. was the unfolding of a balloon under zero-G conditions. This test was to be helpful in the development of a future Mars probe.

The sort of problem the BEXUS stratosphere balloons are designed to answer are similar to those of the REXUS rocket. The balloons fly up to 35 km above Earth, and remain there for between three and six hours. BEXUS-5 carried experiments including that of NEMO, which measured the ozone-spread in the northern atmosphere with new sensors.

Management of the programmes and allocation of the DLR experiments is administered by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bonn. The REXUS/BEXUS project office was set up at the DLR Institute for Aerospace Systems in Bremen to co-ordinate all aspects of the German experiments. It is responsible for internal project management within DLR. The flight campaigns and are carried out by EuroLaunch, a joint-venture between the mobile rocket base (MoRoBa) of DLR and the Esrange Space Center of Swedish space exploration company SSC.

  • Michael Becker
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Re­search and Ex­plo­ration
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn

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