ESA’s Drop Tower Utilisation Activities 2000 to 2011
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The European Space Research and Technology Center ESTEC, ESA’s premises in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, has a long lasting cooperation with the ZARM-FAB (Centre of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity—Drop Tower Operation and Service Company) in Bremen on the utilization of the Drop Tower for ground-based microgravity research and space hardware development studies. During the period January 2000 to December 2011 ESA will have procured in total some 840 drops addressing a variety of scientific and technological disciplines. The experiments are usually carried out in campaigns of 15 to 20 drops each, with an annual average of about 5 campaigns. The cooperation agreement between ESA and the ZARM-FAB includes experiment preparation advice by ZARM’s experts, the integration of the hardware into the drop capsule, dedicated safety reviews, the execution of the drop or catapult experiments, the post-flight payload de-integration as well as the handover of acquired data to the experimenters. The experiment hardware itself is provided by the scientists or has to be procured from sources outside of ESA’s drop tower utilization contract. ESA appreciates the cooperation of the ZARM-FAB in Bremen whose drop- and catapult facility provides excellent microgravity quality, is operated by a highly competent, flexible and extremely supportive expert team, allows campaign integration at relatively short notice throughout the entire year, offers real-time experiment operations and immediately after each drop delivers experiment results and provides on-site hardware modification possibilities.
KeywordsESA/ESTEC Ground-based microgravity studies Drop and catapult experiments Fluids and combustion research Dust and granular matter studies Origin of life experiment Student campaigns
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