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ARCHIMEDES News Release: Launch of Miriam scheduled, Development Work Now Fully Started

November 3, 2006

During the last 4 months, the ARCHIMEDES project team here in Munich and elsewhere has been busy with drafting mission requirements, testing schedules and development programs that will concern all major parts of ARCHIMEDES. This work included mainly the adaptation of our three major development programs CLEOPATRA (operations and flight testing), ARCHIMATTER (material research) and ARCHYFLOW (hypersonic flight and low speed descent analysis program) to the new testing opportunities on parablic flights, sounding rockets and ground facilities. It also included a thorough review of our major development and testing strategy.

Overall programme:
The ARCHIMEDES development process right on track and schedule. It will see the full continuation of all 3 major development programmes through 2007 and early 2008. The efforts will culminate in the spaceflight test MIRIAM, which will be an almost complete flight test of a subscale model of ARCHIMEDES here on Earth. This test will hopefully be followed by a second parabolic flight campaign that, if MIRIAM goes well, is planned to demonstrate the validity of the subscale approach for certain subsystems, as well as test final subsystem designs needed for the full ARCHIMEDES flight model.

The material research programme has gained considerable momentum through the support of Lohmann Tapes, a German high-tech tape manufacturer who has kindly offered to supply tapes capable of withstanding loads required for the ARCHIMEDES balloon envelope. Those tapes, along with more skin material samples, are currently beeing subjected to extensive folding, packaging, thermal and mechanical load tests at the Institute of Material Sciences here at the University of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany in Munich. In parallel, balloon manufacturing tests have begun, with the balloon packaging rigg undergoing primary assembly and function tests at IABG's Ottobrunn, Munich space test center. The balloon envelope is forseen to be made of an advanced Polyimide distributed under the trade name UPILEX-S.

Hypersonic flow field analysis has been continued using the CEVCATS-N computational fluid dynamics code initially developed at the German Aerospace Research Center DLR, and modified at the Institute of Thermodynamics here at the University to account for the new flight regime that ARCHIMEDES will encounter during its passes through the Martian atmosphere. This research is a more detailed continuation of the flow field analysis done in 2004, including differently sized balloons and the development of more detailed trajectory analysis tools.

At this end, the inclusion of the Earth's atmosphere into the trajectory analysis programs used at the Institute of Spaceflight Technology here to include MIRIAM has just begun.

The programme CLEOPATRA has seen several actual large scale tests so far, most visibly the prabolic flight test on ESA's 40th parabolic flight campaign in June 2005, and REGINA, project ARCHIMEDES' first attempt to test hardware under space conditions on DLR's REXUS 3 sounding rocket in April 2006.

The continuation of CLEOPTRA will see its culmination in the spaceflight test MIRIAM, which has been granted a launch opportunity on REXUS4 in autumn 2007 by the DLR Moraba rocket launch group of Oberpfaffenhofen, although no firm launch date has been set so far.

MIRIAM will be a balloon probe roughly 2.5 times smaller than ARCHIMEDES. Miriam will be launched from the Swedish Space Corporation's SSC ESRANGE launch complex in northern Sweden, and reach an altitude between 180-250km before plunging back into the Earth's atmosphere. During its time in space, Miriam will be ejected and inflated from a service module, which will be discarded, leaving the Miriam balloon to soar back to Earth relying on its own hypersonic drag balloon for recovery. It must be noted that project ARCHIMEDES is the only other effort of building a hypersonic drag balloon putting actual hardware to test. The first attempt was made by the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation back in the late 60ies, where wind tunnel tests were conducted that have also helped project ARCHIMEDES.

In addition to this, Prof. Emmerling, Emeritus of the Institute of Mechanics at the University of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany in Munich has developed a method to calculate vibrations in the balloon hull - something that we haven't been able to find in the literature so far.

Project ARCHIMEDES is a joint effort of the Mars Society Deutschland e.V (Mars Society Germany), and the Institutes of Speceflight Technology (mission Design and overall project management), Lightweight Structures (manufacturing of flight vehicles and development of spacecraft structures), Thermodynamics (hypersonics and aerothermodynamics) and Material Researcg of the University of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany in Munich. Scientific instruments for ARCHIMEDES are provided by the Universities of Stuttgart, Braunschweig, the Universities of Iasi and Pitesti in Romania, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the DLR Berlin. The project is most notably supported by the Univerity of Applied Sciences in Bremen and the companies IABG space test center of Ottobrunn and Lohmann Tapes.

Further information may be obtained at or by sending a request to

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