The Water Recovery X-Ray Rocket (WRXR) was a suborbital rocket payload that was launched and recovered in April 2018. The WRXR flew two technologies being developed for future large x-ray missions: x-ray reflection gratings and a hybrid CMOS detector (HCD). The large-format replicated gratings on the WRXR were measured in ground calibrations to have absolute single-order diffraction efficiency of ∼60 % , ∼50 % , and ∼35 % at CVI, OVII, and OVIII emission energies, respectively. The HCD was operated with ∼6 e − read noise and ∼88 eV energy resolution at 0.5 keV. The WRXR was also part of a two-payload campaign that successfully demonstrated NASA sounding rocket water recovery technology for science payloads. The primary instrument, a soft x-ray grating spectrometer, targeted diffuse emission from the Vela supernova remnant over a field-of-view >10 deg2. The flight data show that the detector was operational during flight and detected x-ray events from an on-board calibration source, but there was no definitive detection of x-ray events from Vela. Flight results are presented along with a discussion of factors that could have contributed to the null detection.
The Rockets for Extended-source X-ray Spectroscopy (tREXS) are a series of suborbital rocket payloads being developed at The Pennsylvania State University. The tREXS science instrument is a soft X-ray grating spectrometer that will provide a large field-of-view and unmatched spectral resolving power for extended sources. Each instrument channel consists of a passive, mechanical focusing optic and an array of reflection gratings. The focal plane consists of an array of CIS113 CMOS sensors. tREXS I is currently in the design phase and is being developed for a launch in 2021 to observe diffuse soft X-ray emission from the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant. An analysis of instrument optics, gratings, and focal plane camera is discussed.