SHEAR (Supersonic Heatshield Experiment Aboard REXUS) is an experiment that will fly aboard REXUS 32 as part of the German-Swedish programme REXUS/BEXUS. It is developed by a team of students from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and its aim is to test and flight-prove a recently self-developed heat shield material.

The REXUS/BEXUS (Rocket/Balloon EXperiment for University Students) programme allows students to fly an experiment designed and built by themselves aboard sounding rockets or high-altitude balloons. The REXUS/BEXUS programme is realised under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSA). The Swedish share of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through the collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). EuroLaunch, the cooperation between the Esrange Space Center (SSC) and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for the campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles. Experts from DLR, SSC, ESA as well as from the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) provide technical support to student teams throughout the project.

SHEAR (Supersonic Heatshield Experiment Aboard REXUS) is an experiment of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) that aims to flight-prove alginate and montmorillonite nanocomposite foam, a self-developed heat shield material. From prior on-ground testing, this material is known to withstand high thermal loads, which makes it suitable as a thermal protection system for sounding rocket flight conditions. The upgraded heat shield aims to expand the flight envelope of existing and future DARE sounding rockets.

The mission aims to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of the self-developed composite foam by integrating the heat shield into a flight-ready configuration. The experiment consists of five heat shield samples, three of which are attached to the outer surface of the module and two to the nose cone’s outer surface. Each heat shield sample will be instrumented with two thermocouples to measure the temperature of the outer and inner surfaces. The experiment will gather temperature data measured on both the heat shield and the rocket skin during the ascent and descent phase for the samples on the module, and during the ascent phase for the samples on the nose cone. This data will be compared with on-ground tests and simulations during post-flight analysis. Additionally, valuable data on the usability of this material as a heat shield on sounding rockets will be generated throughout the course of this experiment.

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