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MIRIAM - The experiment

MIRIAM was to be separated from the remaining payload shortly after engine shutdown and then reach an apogee of 175 km.

Unfortunately on deployment of the balloon one of the interlocks jammed. Thus the clamp ring which hold the balloon inside the probe also got jammed. But because the system had already detected a separation, the inflation sequence for the balloon was executed as planned and the inflation systems deck started to pressurize the still packed balloon. Due to the overpressure the inflation hose was pressed off its clamp mechanism.

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
The payload, still attached to the upper stage, as seen from MIRIAM

Due to the error in the separation mechanism MIRIAM separated too late from the payload module of Rexus 4 with the camera module. Then MIRIAM departed from the payload much slower than planned. Subsequently the payload gained speed due to the separation from the upper stage of Rexus 4 and "chased down MIRIAM". Therefore MIRIAM and the payload module collided. Due to the collission the stuck clamp ring of the balloon was shaken loose and the only partially inflated balloon was set free. But unfortunately due to the early separation of the inflation hose only approximately 10% of the planned gas volume could be brought into the balloon.

Since the balloon deployment was uncontrolled and not nominally executed and the instrument pod of the balloon was presumably not activated the mission can only be seen as partially successful.

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
Burnt out rocket engine

Replay of image data received by the ground station

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
The only partly deployed balloon, unfortunately the only picture of it

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
The MIRIAM spacecraft

The recovered payload with our camera module

Examination of the payload condition

Unfortunately the balloon module as well as the service module could not be found and therefore not recovered, despite activated radio beacons. The cause was that both modules had been equipped with beacons sending on the same frequency. This is especially bitter because no data were received from the instrument pod of the balloon.

After a thourough investigation it could be concluded that some of the systems did not work as intended. Therefore before the next sounding rocket flight an extensive test campaign will be conducted, to find as much problems as possible which could put the mission success in jeopardy.