Title: Microgravity, atmosphere sounding, astronomy, technology validation - an overview of suborbital rockets' missions and payloads

Authors: Tomasz Noga; Rachita Puri

Addresses: Center of Space Technologies, Lukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation, Al. Krakowska 110/114, 02-256 Warsaw, Poland ' College of Engineering, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Abstract: Suborbital rockets have been used for research purposes for decades, and they are attractive for atmosphere sounding, microgravity research, astronomy and technology validation purposes. This paper aims to give an outline of the current state of suborbital rocket research efforts. We present a short overview of the history of suborbital research and give a general description of suborbital rockets as well as an overview of national and international research programs utilising suborbital rockets. The topic of test ranges and recent commercialisation efforts are described briefly. We divide the research into four general types - technology validation, astronomy, microgravity and atmosphere sounding. Each type is described and a corresponding table of recently flown example missions is included. Additionally, use of suborbital rockets for education purposes is described. We comment on the future of suborbital research based on current trends and forecasts.

Keywords: suborbital flight; sounding rocket; microgravity; atmosphere sounding; technology validation; astrophysics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2020.10032480

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2020 Vol.6 No.2, pp.179 - 208

Received: 07 Apr 2020
Accepted: 11 May 2020

Published online: 28 Sep 2020 *

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