Our initial launch campaign was supposed to take place in March 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers decided to postpone the launch.
The main reasons for postponing were as follow :
- The main priority is to ensure the well-being and safety of every participant (team members and launch personnel). Having around 100 people coming from all across Europe at the same time would mean a big risk of having at least one carrier of the disease. And even if you could test all the participants before leaving their home countries, they would still have to travel through multiple big international airports, meaning they could still catch the virus before arriving at the base.
- Esrange is quite remote. Situated in the Arctic Circle, the base is an hour away for the closest hospital, which can only take around 70 patients. A virus outbreak at the base would be very difficult to handle from a medical point of view.
- The Esrange base is an active site with critical day-to-day operations like satellite control. A virus outbreak at the base would probably mean a complete closure for a couple of weeks at least, which would seriously compromise those critical operations.
The REXUS 27/28 campaign was first postponed to late September 2020. However, with an increasing number of case at the beginning of September it was deemed unsafe and careless to still hold the campaign in late September.
Our campaign has then been postponed again to February 2021.
The last information we have at this time plans the campaign between the 13th and the 27th of February 2021. We will provide you with new information about the campaign in due time.
What about the experiment ?
Even though we are of course very disappointed about our campaign getting postponed so close to the launch (the whole rocket was already on the launch site, assembled and balanced), we understand the decision taken by the organisers.
The experiment has since been packed and stored safely by Esrange personnel to ensure that everything will be in perfect condition for the next launch window. And we have the opportunity to replace the batteries, which will have been sitting in the capsule slowly discharging for more than a year. And the organisers have extended the launch campaign for two days to give us more time to test and prepare the experiment.