With the completion of the MIRKA2-RX mission, the student members of the Small Satellite Group of the University of Stuttgart field tested technology that will be used in a future CubeSat mission.
The MIRKA2-RX mission that launched on March 18th, 2016, consisted of a micro re-entry capsule (MRC) and the newly developed Low Orbit Technical Unit Separator (LoTUS) which were both integrated within a REXUS program rocket.
The European REXUS/BEXUS program supports scientific and technological experiments on research rockets and balloons, sending two of each into space every year.
132 seconds after lift-off, and while the REXUS rocket was at apogee, a pyro cutter onboard the separator would cut the wire securing the MRC to the separator carriage, thus ejecting it out into the upper atmosphere.
The ejection would also trigger a mechanical switch enabling battery-assisted data collection from pressure, temperature, acceleration and radiation sensors placed inside the MRC.
While the mechanical switch wasn’t successfully activated during the successful ejection, the MRC’s landing on snow-covered Swedish tundra, was. Now active, the MRC used its 9603(N) modem and antenna to send back telemetry via Rock Seven (now trading as Ground Control)’s API and server to the MIRKA2-RX team’s own server, allowing the team to locate the device.
The separator integrated into the MIRKA2-RX mission was also designed to fit inside a forthcoming CubeSat Atmospheric Probe for Education (CAPE) mission developed by the University of Stuttgart Institute of Space Systems (IRS). The CAPE mission will test heat shield materials and a pulsed plasma thruster.