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MIRIAM 2 parabolic flight

MIRIAM 2 is an improved version of the MIRIAM 1 project, which was in space in 2008 with a Rexus 4 sounding rocket. It is supposed to be launched into space in fall 2017 on a sounding rocket from Kiruna/Sweden and is currently being run by the Mars Society Germany and members of the VFR. The manufacturing of the balloon and also the deployment mechanism and the system electronics have been completely redesigned. The goals of the project are also a successful deployment and inflation of the balloon in space and also the monitoring of the reentry behaviour of the system via measurement instruments in the balloon pod.

Therefore it is necessary to do some preliminary tests to make sure that everything is working as planned when it is launched on the rocket. Among other things the deployment mechanism needs to demonstrate its ability to deploy the balloon under weightless conditions, so it will be in the necessary configuration prior to the inflation. To verify this the MIRIAM-2 team has taken part in a scientific parabolic flight campaign conducted by ESA in Bordeaux.

Below some of the tests done prior to the zero-g flight are described.

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The project

The balloon this time was manufactured by welding the Upilex panels, contrary to the MIRIAM 1 balloon, which was done with taping. Completion of the balloon was on Nov. 16, 2013:

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
First inflation test with pressurized air after completion of construction. The balloon diameter is 4 m.

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
View through the balloon as seen from the pod camera

Another milestone was also reached by the end of 2013: The new deployment mechanism was successfully tested with a dummy mass in place of the balloon (click the picture for a complete article (german)):

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
Description of the deployment mechanism

On Feb. 18, 2014 finally an inflation test was successfully run in the vacuum chamber of the IABG in Ottobrunn. Even the TV was there witnessing this test. Further reports in German can be viewed here (Report MSD) and here (press review).

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
MSD Team in front of the open vacuum chamber

This balloon was also used for the zero-g test.