STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Reuters) -- A rocket blasted off from northern Sweden on Tuesday and its payload parachuted safely back to Earth with new data on the effects of weightlessness, the Swedish Space Corp. said.
The rocket carried an experiment testing how a protein's structure is affected by the absence of gravity.
Scientists were waiting for a helicopter to return the payload of the rocket launched from the Swedish Space Corp.'s base at Esrange, outside the Swedish city of Kiruna which is 150 km (90 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.
"It reached an altitude of 714 km (444 miles) in 455 seconds," said Anne Ytterskog, spokeswoman for the Swedish Space Corp.
The whole operation lasted 20 minutes.
A parachute brought the payload down to a field about two km (1.2 miles) from where it had been expected to land, still within a special safety zone around the rocket base.
As well as the protein experiment, the rocket carried three other biological experiments and one involving physics research.
The experiments, designed by scientists in Germany, France and Italy, were able to make use of about 12 minutes of weightlessness from the time the rocket left the atmosphere, about two minutes after takeoff.
The rocket, called MAXUS 3, was a joint venture between the Swedish Space Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA), a unit of auto giant DaimlerChrysler AG, and financed by the European Space Agency.
MAXUS 3 was 16 meters (52 feet) long and weighed 12,300 kg (27,100 pounds). The rocket motor was a Castor 4B, fueled by 10 tons of gunpowder.
The Swedish Space Corp. declined to comment on the cost of the project.
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