What is the catapult system?
When breaking ground for the Bremen Drop Tower on May 3, 1988, the installation of a catapult system underneath the building had already been taken into account. 16 years later, the ZARM engineers finished designing the catapult system and it was inaugurated in December 2004. The pneumatically driven system takes 0.25 seconds to accelerate the experiment capsule to a speed of 168 kilometers per hour. The exact force of acceleration is being calculated for each individual experiment in order to throw the drop capsule as close as possible to the top of the drop tube and thus maximize the duration of the flight. After a couple of seconds the deceleration unit has already been moved into place again in order to catch the capsule on its way down.
By doubling the trajectory length we are able to extend the time period spent in microgravity to 9.3 seconds - an experiment duration no other drop facility can provide.