OHB overseeing experiment on board Russian FOTON-M3 space capsule
Today at 13.00 hours CEST, an unmanned Russian FOTON-M3 space capsule containing roughly 15 scientific experiments successfully lifted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
One of the devices on board is the Gradflex (GRAdient Driven FLuctuations EXperiment) payload for researching fluctuations in liquids in gravity-free conditions. Bremen-based space technology company OHB-System AG is responsible for supervising the entire Gradflex experiment. During the 12-day mission, OHB employees will be based at the Foton-M3 flight command center in Moscow as well as ESA’s scientific control center for the Foton-M3 experiments in Kiruna, Sweden.
The Gradflex experiment involves basic research with the aim of gaining a better understanding of how crystals form in gravity-free conditions. The Gradflex payload has been developed under the management of RUAG Wallisellen, Switzerland, for the European Space Agency ESA. As a subcontractor, OHB developed all of the electronics and software for GradFlex including the high-precision temperature control system for the experiments. As well as this, it is responsible for the cooling system based on heat pipes and air coolers.
The design of the FOTON-M3 capsule is based on the proven and reliable technology of the Vostok capsule, in which Yuri Gagarin flew into space in the sixties. The capsule is now only deployed on unmanned missions and used by the European Space Agency ESA, among others, for experiments in gravity-free conditions.
Kayser-Threde GmbH, an affiliate of OHB-System AG, is also materially involved in the experiments in the FOTON-M3 mission (see www.kayser-threde.de). Based in Munich, this company has formed the Group’s Payload + Science business unit since being taken over by OHB Technology AG in June/August of this year.