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COMMERCIAL ROCKET FLIGHT 'PERFECT'

 VIENNA, Va., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- An EER Systems Starfire 1 rocket lifted off from White Sands Missile Range at noon Friday carrying a payload of material science and biotechnology experiments on a 15-minute ride into space.
 The flight was the sixth in the Consort series conducted by the Vienna-based firm on behalf of the University of Alabama in Huntsville's Consortium for Materials Development in Space. "It was a picture-perfect launch," said Dr. Charles Lundquist, the director of the Alabama group. "The telemetry from the rocket shows the payload received excellent levels of microgravity."
 After a flawless countdown, the 3-ton, 52-foot rocket launched the payload, dubbed Consort 6, on a 187-mile-high journey. The trip provided scientists with 7 minutes of near weightlessness in which to conduct experiments. The payload and the rocket's reusable guidance and telemetry sections returned to earth via parachute and were recovered by helicopter 51 miles north of the launch site. This mission, as with all the previous ones, was conducted under the direction of former astronaut Donald (Deke) Slayton, director of EER's Space Services Division.
 The seven experiments on board focused on the effects of the absence of gravity on various processes, materials and biomedical samples. Dr. Robert Naumann, the university's Consort program manager, said, "The ride was absolutely beautiful. It couldn't have been better." The research results from several tests are expected to lead to stronger metals, polyurethane foam and ceramics. They will also provide insight into potential improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth. The biotechnology experiments conducted during the mission are designed to aid in purification techniques and to examine the effects of low gravity on the body's immune system.
 The two-stage, pencil shaped Starfire 1 is one of a fleet of small expendable launch vehicles that EER provides to the commercial launch industry. Mike Bryant, EER's director of corporate communications, likens the business to a rental truck agency. "If you need a short haul ride for a small payload, we'll offer a Starfire 1. If you want the long-haul into orbit, then we can provide a selection from an entire family of Conestoga vehicles which can be tailored to suit your requirements. Don't need an 18-wheeler? Fine, I've hot a smaller cargo van that will do the job."
 EER's Conestoga 1620 was selected as the "vehicle of choice" to place in orbit the new NASA sponsored Commercial Experiment Transporter (COMET) scheduled for launch in the near future from Wallops Island, Va. COMET is the first commercial system designed to put a spacecraft into orbit and bring it back again via reentry and a parachute landing in Utah.
 EER's launch vehicles are powered primarily by solid rocket motors manufactured by Thiokol Corporation's Huntsville, Ala., and Elkton, Md. plants. The second stage booster for the Starfire 1 is provided by Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg, Canada.
 -0- 2/22/93
 /NOTE: A launch photo is available./
 /CONTACT: Mike Bryant of EER Systems, 703-847-5750/


CO: EER Systems Corporation ST: Virginia IN: ARO SU:

MH -- DC012 -- 8961 02/22/93 12:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 22, 1993
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