June 9, 2015



MASER (MAterial Science Experiment Rocket) programme was started by SSC in 1985, initially in order to increase the flight opportunities for microgravity experiments after the Challenger space shuttle catastrophe. The first launch took place in 1987, providing 7 minutes of microgravity with almost 300 km apogee, and used of a guidance system which is compulsory for such high trajectories. Since the start twelve MASER rockets have been launched from Esrange, with 4-7 experiments per mission. The flights have provided 6-7 minutes of low microgravity levels used as a tool for scientific research in various disciplines – such as fluid science, material science, and bioscience. Without the presence of gravity, different behaviors of processes and substances can be studied. Moreover, experiments in non-gravity conditions often help scientists to validate their theoretical models.

Within the MASER programme, SSC designs and builds experiment modules according to the experiment requirements established by the Science Teams. In this work, SSC often subcontracts major tasks to experienced European companies specialized in e.g. optical or mechanical systems.

SSC, with the support of DLR MORABA, also provides the Flight Ticket services for the missions, including payload assembly and tests, service and recovery systems and of course also the launch campaign and the flight.




MASER 13 project was started in 2013 under ESA contract with the preliminary design of the four experiment modules BIM-3, CDIC-3, XRMON-SOL and later also MEDI. With the completion and readiness of all four experiment modules in August 2015, verification tests on integrated payload level will be carried out in SSC’s facilities in Stockholm in September 2015, with launch scheduled for November.




General information


Launch site: Esrange Space Center
Launch date: Launched 1 December 2015 at 06:00 LT
Customer: ESA
Prime contractor: SSC


Technical information


Rocket type: VSB 30 rocket
Nominal diameter: 557 mm, 17 inch
Total payload mass and length: 404 kg, 530 cm
Total scientific payload mass: 277 kg, 355 cm
Apogee: 260 km
Microgravity: >6 min


Scientific payload


Experiment module Experiment name, description and investigator Mass, length Comments
CDIC-3 CHYPI-MARCHE Chemo-hydrodynamic patterns and instabilities
A. de Wit et al.
Université Libre de Bruxelles
73 kg, 96 cm Fluid science
Down-linked video
BIM-3 GRAMAT Isolation of mRNA to identify gravity related gene expression
SPARC A Specialized Phospholipase A, and Relocalisation in auxin-transporting cells in microgravity
Klaus Palme et al. FRIAS, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
54 kg, 65 cm Two biological plant experiments with Arabidopsis thaliana (English: Thale cress, Swedish: Backtrav)
MEDI CETSOL-MEDI, Multiple Equiaxed Dendrite Interaction
L. Sturz et al. ACCESS e. V. Aachen
56 kg, 60 cm Crystal growth
Down-linked video
XRMON-SOL XRMON-SOLIDIFICATION In-site X-ray monitoring of advanced metallurgical processes under microgravity and terrestrial conditions
D. Browne
University College of Dublin
99 kg, 114 cm Isothermal solidification
In-situ X-ray observation
Down-linked video

For information on the experiment module, click the names in left column

Technical passengers


Passenger Passenger name, description Total system mass Comments
IMU-BB (ESA) Inertial Measurement Unit Bread Board, test of overall IMU performance in flight representative environment 3 kg System is stand-alone and located in payload adapter

The Industrial group


MASER 13 mission is carried out by SSC under ESA contract. The industrial group performing the work consists of SSC in the role of Prime, and the experienced Sub-contractors Airbus DS in Bremen, RUAG Space Systems in Nyon, DTM in Modena, Techno System developments in Pozzuoli, Naples as well as Lambda-X in Nivelles, Brussels, who all have developed major parts of the experiment modules.

DLR MORABA in Oberfaffenhofen, Munich, contribute largely to the Flight Ticket part of the mission, such as rocket motor systems, recovery system, rate control system, flight analysis, and ground telemetry system.


Experiment module Involved industry
CDIC-3 Lambda-X (BE)


Techno System Developments (IT)

RUAG Space Systems (CH)
MEDI Airbus DS (DE)




The payload consists of the four experiment modules and the service systems, which are the MASM Service Module, ERS Recovery System with nose cone, Balancing Ring with GPS receiver and flight observation camera and finally the payload adapter which interfaces to the motor.


Contact persons:


Gunnar Florin, Project Manager (SSC)

Torbjörn Eld, Project Manager for the preparatory work of the ground support facilities at ESC (SSC)

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