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Mirka (Mirca)

Mirka (left) attached to Foton capsule [Kayser-Threde]

Mirka (Mikro-Rückkehrkapsel), a.k.a Mirca (Micro Reentry Capsule), was developed by Kayser-Threde GmbH, Munich and DASA Jena-Optronik GmbH, Jena under contract of the former German Space Agency DARA has a spherical shape with a diameter of about 1 m and a total mass of 154 kg. By using a new, self-supporting heat-shield structure, Mirka is a dedicated research capsule solely for performance of re-entry experiments.


  • HEATIN: Measurement of temperature and pressure distribution as well as heat flow into the heat-shield during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
  • RAFLEX: Measurement of the aerodynamic and aerostatic pressure in the stagnation point and other selected portions of the capsule's surface.
  • PYREX: Pyrometric temperature measurements inside the heat-shield.
  • HITZESCHILD: The self-supporting outer structure acts as a heat-shield, too. It is based on a carbon fiber inner structure with Apollo-type ablation material and is coated by a C/SIC-layer. This design achieves a weight saving of almost 40% compared to typical heat-shield constructions.

Mirka remained passive and attached to the Russian re-entry capsule Foton 11 during two weeks in orbit. The assembly - Foton 8 (Foton #11) and Mirka - was attitude controled prior to deboost for re-entry. Simultaneously with the command for deboost of the Foton capsule, Mirka was activated and separated afterwards, ensuring that both capsules were landing in the same impact area. After separation from Foton 8, Mirka flew fully autonomously and performed its experiments during re-entry. At an altitude of about 7 km the parachute system was activated.

Nation: Germany
Type / Application: Reentry Technology
Operator: DARA
Contractors: Kayser-Threde, DASA
Configuration: Sphere
Propulsion: None
Power: Batteries
Mass: 154 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Mirka 1997-060# 09.10.1997 Pl LC-43/3 Soyuz-U with Foton 8 (Foton #11)

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