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MAXUS & TEXUS: The Direct Way to Microgravity

MAXUS & TEXUS: The Direct Way to Microgravity

The TEXUS/MAXUS programme is probably the easiest way into microgravity accessible today. Aboard our sounding rockets, scientists and experimenters can execute their technological experiments and investigations in microgravity conditions.

55 TEXUS, 9 MAXUSLaunches since 1976
Up to 500 kgPayload Mass Available
~1 hour before Lift-offSample Installation Time
~60 Minutes after Lift-offRecovery Time


Fly aboard the MAXUS Sounding Rocket


Flight MAXUS 9 (April 2017) was equipped with cameras collecting material for this unique 360° video. This MAXUS flight hosted five scientific experiments collecting highly valuable data during the flight which offered 713 seconds of microgravity with an apogee of 678 km.

Platforms for a wide variety of unique experiments

Experiments performed cover a variety of scientific and technological disciplines, such as biology, combustion, medicine, material science, life science, fluid physics and dynamics, technology demonstrations…

Airbus is able to develop the complete experiment module, in line with the customer’s scientific requirements, typically using our highly efficient, standardized “tool box”. Alternatively, the experiment’s “core” is provided by a partner and Airbus provides the experiment support.

  • Access for a sample installation: until ~1 hour prior to lift-off
  • Real-time experiment data and video imagery and uplink of telecommands
  • Recovery system ensures safe retrieval of payloads/samples


Total length: 13 m

Total mass: 2,650 kg

Payload mass: 400 kg

Experiment payload:

  • 290 kg
  • 3,500 mm
  • Ø 438 mm

μ-g time: ~6 min


Total length: 17 m

Total mass: 12,300 kg

Payload mass: 800 kg

Experiment payload:

  • 500 kg
  • 3,500 mm
  • Ø 640 mm

μ-g time: ~12-13 min

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Airbus is TEXUS/ MAXUS Prime Contractor

Airbus is the Prime Contractor of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for all TEXUS and MAXUS missions, including the overall system responsibility during all mission phases:

  • Development and integration of experiment modules
  • Support of scientists and experimenters
  • Provision of flight systems
  • Mission operations

Project management and engineering tasks are executed in Bremen, manufacturing, integration and test activities are performed in Trauen. The launches are executed at the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna, Sweden.

Did You Know…?

Experiments aboard TEXUS and MAXUS are executed in dedicated experiment modules which are autonomous and operate independent of each other.

A typical experiment module comprises:

  • Experiment cell
  • Stimuli and diagnostics
  • Video cameras for visual observation
  • Electronics for experiment control and communication with the service module for real-time telecommands and data transmission
  • Battery power supply