On Saturday morning, MAPHEUS-9 sounding rocket left Esrange Space Center outside Kiruna, in the chilly arctic north. This marked the eleventh successful launch within the scientific rocket program led by the German Aerospace Center, DLR.
The MAPHEUS campaign is an abbreviation in German meaning “Materialphysikalische Experimente unter Schwerelosigkeit”, or “Material physics experiments at zero gravity”. The rocket contained four different experiments and among them Graviplax, a biological experiment aiming to understand the impact of gravity on cell polarity and cancer development using a multicellular organism.
The rocket was launched 08:00 LT on January 29 according to schedule. Alexander Kallenbach, the project leader from DLR, was noticeable satisfied with the operation.
“This launch and all planning and preparations couldn’t have gone better. All systems worked perfectly from the start and we were also lucky with the weather,” says Alexander Kallenbach, adding: “Considering this was an unguided rocket, the impact almost hit bullseye with only 11 kilometers deviation”.
The MAPHEUS-9 vehicle is 11,7 m long, 43,8 cm in diameter, and with a weight of 1,7 tons. The rocket reached an altitude of 253,6 km with 6 minutes and 10 seconds in microgravity. Maria Snäll lead the project for SSC.
“As a project leader and member of the SSC team, I get such a good feeling after every successful launch. To witness the researchers joy when the rocket is leaving the base makes my day,” says Maria Snäll.
The payload with the experiments was brought back to Esrange the following day and is now being analyzed by the team at the base.
More information about the MAPHEUS program can be found at