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EXPRESS (Experiment Re-entry Space System) was a bi-national (Germany, Japan) project for a small, micro gravity and reentry research spacecraft. The spacecraft was procured from Khrunichev for a cost of 30 Mio. DM.

The payload used a Russian-built reentry vehicle, based on an ICBM reentry vehicle, a Russian built service module, derived from the OGCh (FOBS) fractional orbital bombing system, and the launch was carried out by the Japanese ISAS space agency on a M-3S-2 with KM-M kick motor.

The reentry vehicle carried two CATEX materials processing ovens, and three German (CETEX, PYREX and RAFLEX) and one Japanese (RTEX) heat shield material reentry experiments.

  • CATEX (Crystalgrowth of catalyst for refining petroleum), NEDO/USEF, Japan
  • HIPMEX (High performance material experiment), NEDO/RIMCOF, Japan
  • RTEX (Re-entry Experiment), ISAS, Japan
  • CETEX (Ceramic tile experiment), Germany
  • PYREX (Pyrometric re-entry experiment), Germany
  • RAFLEX (Rarefied flux experiment), Germany

It was due to land in the Australian desert after a five day flight, but the thrust vector control on the second stage malfunctioned 103 seconds after launch, and the fourth stage and payload entered a 110 km × 250 km × 33 deg orbit, instead of the intended 270 km × 380 km one. This failure was probably due to second-stage attitude-control oscillations that exhausted attitude-control fuel, probably caused by the heavy payload.

EXPRESS was thought to be lost after launch and was not tracked. But it had indeed reached orbit and reentered the atmosphere during its third orbit. The reentry capsule reentered without guidance in Ghana, where it was discovered 10 months later and retrieved.

Nation: Germany, Japan
Type / Application: Micro gravity and return
Operator: DARA, ISAS
Contractors: Khrunichev
Propulsion: ?
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: 5 days (planned)
Mass: 765 kg (total); 400 kg recovery capsule, 365 kg service module
Orbit: 110 km × 250 km, 33 (reached); 270 km × 380 km, 33 (planned)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
EXPRESS 1995-U01 15.01.1995 Ka LP-M p M-3S-2 [KM-M]