Space flight in Germany – timeline including important events



The invention of the missile

1232 – At the battle of Kai-fung-fu the Chinese use gun powder-filled bamboo as projectiles against the Mongols. Shortly thereafter, the Mongols adopt this same technique which at a later date will reach Europe via the Arabs.

At the height of the Middle Ages missiles are mentioned in written records across Europe and are used in battles and as fireworks.

In the 16th century the principle of a two tier missile is developed by Conrad Haas and Johann Schmidlap which allows the projectiles to reach greater heights.

At the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century missile guiding systems are used in India, Egypt, Europe and the USA.

I

1920 - 1932

Missile research during the Weimar Republic
10 January 1920 the entry into force of the Versailles Treaty. In the terms of the post-war treaty vis-à-vis Germany the area of missile technology which at the time is no longer seen as an issue is not even mentioned. This means that research into missile technology has a legal basis and develops greatly throughout the Weimar Republic.
1923

Hermann Oberth publishes his book By Rocket into Planetary Space which outlines the principle of launching rockets into space with no reference to the works of Ziolkowski in Russia and Goddad in the USA.

In the 1920s rocket fever grabs the avant-garde imagination already present in the culture of the Weimar Republic. Key figures such as Maximilian Valier, Fritz von Opel and Rudolf Nebel achieve fame through their spectacular and public experiments.

1927 Johannes Winkler founds the Verein für Raumschiffahrt e.V. (VfR) "Association of Space-Flight Reg. Assoc."
14 March 1931 Winkler succeeds in launching the first liquid-fuel rocket (Astris) in Europe which reaches a height of approx. 60 metres.
1929 Premiere of Fritz Lang’s utopian film Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) which raises the public's enthusiasm for rockets to fever pitch. For the very first time we see in the film a countdown which is used to heighten the dramatic effect at the launch of the rocket in the film. This countdown will later be used to launch all future rockets. As publicity for the film, Oberth constructs a real rocket. Only much later, however, are attempts made to launch the rocket but with little success.
1930 Nebel rents a former firing range in Reinickendorf, which is later known as Berlin's rocket launch station. On this site he tests the "Minimum rockets" (Mirak), which measure less than three metres in length and weigh only a few kilogrammes, using the rocket fuel pioneered by Oberth. However, because of aerodynamic problems the flight of these rockets proves problematic.
June 1932

The army’s Weapons Agency sets up its own rocket research programme at its training ground in Kummersdorf, approx. 30 km southwest of Berlin. For this, it enlists the then 20 year old von Braun.

II

1934 - 1952

The Space Race in Nazi Germany
6 April 1934 By order of the Propaganda Ministry the publication of any findings in the field of rocket technology is forbidden. Rocket technology research becomes top secret and a matter of state.
1934

Von Braun succeeds in establishing a permanent and financed rocket technology research programme by developing Aggregat 1 (A1) and Aggregat 2 (A2).

1936-1937 sees the construction in Peenemünde on the Baltic island of Usedom of a state-of-the art research and development centre - a joint venture by the army and the air force. The aim is to develop the A4 rocket which will be equipped with a 25 tonne engine.
1941 The first A4 is tested.
3 October 1942 The first successful launch of an A4 into space (at a height of approx. 100 km) - the first flight of its kind in human history.
18 August 1943

Peenemünde is attacked by British bombers. The main production of the A4 rocket is subsequently moved under ground. A total of 42 000 prisoners are used in the production of these rockets, 30 000 of whom will die as a result of the inhumane conditions at the camp.

Between 8 September 1944 and 27 March 1945 around 3200 of these rockets, now named V2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2 – weapon of retaliation) by the minister for propaganda Joseph Goebbels, are fired from bases along the Channel coast at targets in Belgium (Antwerp, Liege, Brussels), Southern England (London) and Northern France. They will claim the lives of 5000 victims.

Between 8 September 1944 and 27 March 1945 around 3200 of these rockets, now named V2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2 – weapon of retaliation) by the minister for propaganda Joseph Goebbels, are fired from bases along the Channel coast at targets in Belgium (Antwerp, Liege, Brussels), Southern England (London) and Northern France. They will claim the lives of 5000 victims.

III

1945 - 1955

The End of the War, Demilitarization and the Ban on Rocket Technology Research

1945 Immediately after the end of the war any remaining V2s and their production sites are removed and relocated to the USA and the Soviet Union. Engineers involved in rocket technology research are also deported. At the Potsdam Conference attended by the leaders of the victorious countries it is decided that there will be a ban in Germany on carrying out rocket technology research.
From 1947 onwards students and scientists at the University of Stuttgart discuss current developments in rocket technology in the USA. By the end of the year they form the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Weltraumfahrt (Consortium on Space Flight).
5 August 1948 The Consortium on Space Flight becomes the Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung (GfW) (Society for Space Flight Research) to serve as an umbrella organisation for all the experts in rocket technology who have remained in Germany.
1949

The GfW calls for the foundation of the "International Astronautical Federation" (IAF) by tabling a resolution with astronautical societies around the world.

21 September 1952 Engineers in Bremen create the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Raketentechnik- The Consortium for Rocket Technology- (AFRA, later DAFRA and finally known as the Deutsche Raketen – Gesellschaft e.V. – The German Society for Rocket Science Reg. Assoc. In 1956 it becomes a member of the IAF.

IV

1955 - 1969

Institutionalisation of Aeronautical Research in the Federal Republic of Germany

5 May 1955 With the entry into force of the Treaties of Paris the occupation of West Germany by allied forces is lifted. German researchers are officially permitted to become involved again in both national and international aeronautical programmes. At a political level, activities in this field can be financed by state-sponsored initiatives.
1954/55 During the winter term at the Institute of Technology in Stuttgart the first official facility for rocket technology research is created with the formation of the Forschungsinstitut für Physik der Strahlantriebe (FPS) – the Research Institute for Jet Propulsion Physics.
1953 The newly formed Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luftfahrt (DFL) – the German Aviation Society - is also actively involved in aerospace research and development.
5 October 1957

Launch of the first artificial earth satellite Sputnik 1.

From 1960 onwards European scientists regularly attend conferences and give advice on how best to proceed in the area of space exploration.
1961 The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) – The German Research Society – presents the Federal government with a memo with unprecedented in-depth analysis of aerospace initiatives both at home and abroad.
29 January 1962 Bundeskanzler Adenauer commissions the Ministry for Nuclear Energy with the lead management of matters relating to space and aerospace research and technology.
March-April 1962 Creation of ELDO (European Launcher Development Organisation) to oversee the development of the European rocket launcher Europa. However, this venture fails.
14 June 1962 Creation of ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The ESRO has successfully launched seven scientific research satellites (see table) and approximately 180 sounding rockets.
23 August 1962 Creation of the Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung (GfW) – the Society for Space Research - which would oversee the management of space exploration on behalf of the federal government.
1963 Scientists from the Max-Planck Institute for extraterrestrial physics in Garching carry out experiments in the Sahara desert using sounding rockets.
May 1964 The Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and the American aerospace agency NASA agree on a joint venture to develop micro meteorite protection panels.
1965 The German Space Agency presents the federal government with a memorandum which recommends a greater commitment to space exploration.
At the turn of the year 1965/1966 Bundeskanzler Erhard and US-President Johnson agree that there should be closer cooperation between the two countries in the area of space exploration research. This leads to the development, the construction and the launch of the two Helios research satellites to orbit the sun and of the two Aeros satellites whose main purpose is to study the state and behaviour of the upper atmosphere.
26 July 1967 The federal government approves the first German space exploration programme.
11/12 July 1967 The federal government takes the decision to create a "unitary organisation" in the Deutsche Forschungs- und Versuchsanstalt für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DFVLR) – the German Aerospace Research and Experimental Station. The aim of the amalgamation in 1969 of the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt (AVA), - the Aerodynamic Experimental Station – the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (DVL) – the German Experimental Station for Aviation – and the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luftfahrt (DFL) – the German Aviation Research Facility – and in 1972 of the Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung – the Society for Space Exploration Research was better coordination of the 35 institutes and establishments and of aerospace management in general.
5 December 1968 German involvement in the launch of the first ESRO satellite: Heos-1 whose mission is to study the inter-planetary magnetic field, solar wind and particles.
8 November 1969 Launch of the first German research satellite Azur. On 15 November, the DFVLR founded its own German Space Operations Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich to support the satellite's mission. The satellite’s mission is to study cosmic rays and their interaction with the magnetosphere, the polar lights as well as seasonal alterations in the solar wind during solar eruptions.

V

1969 - 1983

Entry into astronautical space travel and independent European rocket technology
10 March 1970 Launch of the Franco-German aeronomy satellite Dial whose mission is to explore the geocorona (an extension of the outermost region of the Earth's atmosphere).
16 December 1972 / 16 July 1974 Launch of satellites Aeros-A and -B to explore the upper atmosphere.
10 December 1974 / 15 January 1976 Launch of the two German-American probes Helios-A and -B whose mission is to study the interaction between the sun and the Earth. Given the heat protection technology available at the time, Helios manages to come as close as possible to the sun, in other words, a third of the distance between the sun and the Earth. Scientifically, the mission is a great success.
1974 and 1975 Launch of the two Franco-German communications satellites Symphonie. Given that there is no launching system available in Europe, the satellites are launched into orbit by an American rocket with the proviso that they will not be put to commercial use. As a consequence of this, France, in particular, along with West Germany, vows to make every effort to create a Western European launching system.
1975 The ESRO, the ELDO and the Conférence Européenne des Télécommunications par Satelites (CETS) are brought together under the newly created umbrella organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA). Its mission since then has been to coordinate and carry out all community space programmes in Western Europe.

20 August / 9 September 1975

Launch of Viking 1 and 2. West Germany is part of a planetary mission for the very first time with its involvement in the American Mars probes.
September 1976 The German Texus Programme is agreed and its mission is to carry out research on microgravity duration in sounding rockets. The programme is continuing at present and is a resounding success.
5 September / 20 August 1977 Launch of Voyager 1 and 2. West Germany takes part in 2 experiments on the American deep space probe mission to the edge of our solar system.
23 November 1977 Launch of the first European weather satellite Meteosat-1 from Cape Canaveral. The Meteosat series of seven satellites has been in operation for 30 years.
20 May / 8 August 1978 Launch of the planetary probes Pioneer Venus-1 und -2, during which German institutes contribute to experiments on board.
24 December 1979 The maiden flight of the European launcher Ariane-1 from French Guyana takes place without incident. By 1986 Ariane-1 is launched eleven times with a payload of 1.85 tonnes. Nine of the launches are successful.
1982

Ariane-1 launches the first Western European satellite into orbit: the weather satellite Meteosat-2 and the marine communications satellite Marecs A.

Most of the work carried out in space travel research in Germany originates during the ruling coalition between the Social Democratic and the Liberal parties. By making a substantial contribution to the American Space Shuttle programme, the federal government promises that it will continue to promote German skills and know how in the construction of further launchers and in the management of international aerospace programmes and that it will play a leading role in the pioneering field of microgravity research. With the construction of the Spacelab, West Germany is able to assume, in its own right, a leading role in an essential area of European space exploration. Both laboratory modules FM1 and FOP have been involved in 16 missions from 1983 to 1988. During this time, the laboratories have been in space for a period of 181 days. They have allowed 110 astronauts to carry out work on 720 experiments.

VI

1957 - 1989

Space exploration research in the German Democratic Republic

The aftermath of the war in the "other Germany" is also characterised by a dismantling process and a ban on air and space travel research. Any political concept or vision of space exploration is absent from the Politbüro, let alone any group lobbying for it. As a model socialist state, there is a natural tendency to side with Moscow, so much so that a considerable part of East Germany's space exploration resources become an integral part of the Soviet potential.

5 October 1957 The launch of Sputnik 1 is observed closely on TV and radio using their own measurement data.
1957-1961 Cooperation between the GDR and the Soviet Union through the Akademien der Wissenschaft (AdW) - Science Academies. This is limited to individual observation and documentation programmes relating to Soviet missions and their scientific evaluation.
22 June 1960 Creation of the Astronautische Gesellschaft der DDR – the Astronautical Society of the GDR – against the will of the Party and State apparatus. On 17 August the GDR becomes a member of the International Astronautical Federation. West Germany opposes the move.
From 1961 Sporadic cooperation between the GDR and the Soviet Union and other socialist states in research programmes on the atmosphere and meteorology.
13 April 1967 Creation of the RGW Research Association INTERKOSMOS. The Soviet Union provides the rocket launchers, the satellites and the earth stations to be used for the joint experiments free-of-charge and in return receives all of the data collected from the experiments carried out by the partner states. There are working groups on the following research areas: "cosmic physics", "cosmic meteorology", "cosmic communications", "cosmic biology and medicine" and from 1975 "remote sensing of the Earth using aero cosmic sensors". The GDR does not have a separate national space exploration programme.
20 December 1968 Launch of the satellite Kosmos 261 (Sputnik of Friendship); for the first time the GDR is directly involved in a scientific space mission, albeit on the ground. The mission of the satellite is to study the upper atmosphere and the polar lights and is a joint venture involving seven different countries.
14 October 1969

The launch of the satellite Interkosmos-1 whose mission is to study the sun and the interplanetary plasma sees the GDR present in space for the very first time. The Institute of Electronics at the Academy of Science (AdW) uses a photometer to study the short wave radiation of the sun. By 1992 a total of 25 Interkosmos satellites are launched. The GDR is involved in the launch of 15 of them. From November 1970 there are additional atmospheric and meteorological experiments carried out by the Soviet sounding rocket Vertikal and the meteorological rockets MR-06 and M-100.

15 November 1971

Creation of the Intenationale Organisation für kosmischen Nachrichtenverkehr- International Organisation for cosmic communication -–(INTERSPUTNIK), a Soviet dominated organisation set up to counteract the Western INTELSAT system which had been founded a few months previously. IN TERSPUTNIK does not operate its own satellite network but rather hires out Soviet communications satellites. Since 1976 the Ministry for Post and Telecommunications in the GDR has been actively using the INTERSPUTNIK network and establishes a ground communication station near Fürstenwalde.

In addition, the GDR is represented in almost all of the relevant international organisations involved in space exploration and utilisation research. The GDR is a member of the UN Committee on Space Exploration , the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO) and since September 1986 is also a member of INMARSAT.

26 August - 3 September 1978

Mission by the "intercosmonaut" Sigmund Jähn aboard the Soviet space station Salyut 6. He is the first German in space and over a period of seven days he carries out scientific-technical, medical and biological experiments on, amongst other things, the sense of time, the senses of hearing and taste in situations of zero gravity, on the production of high performing optical glasses and also takes interesting photographs of planet Earth from a scientific, economic and military viewpoint.

A yearly figure of about only 40 million GDR Marks is earmarked for space research in East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Notwithstanding, researchers in the GDR are becoming involved in more and more costly and elaborate missions such as the probe to Venus (Venera), the international observation programme of Halley's comet (Vega) or the probe to the two moons of planet Mars which ultimately fails.

The country’s leading role in the area of optoelectronics is also worth mentioning. The multispectral camera MKF 6 developed in the 1970s and continuously improved over the years represents one of the most significant achievements. It is used on Soviet space stations for terrestrial observation and military reconnaissance.

VII

1984 - 2006

Western European autonomy, an excellent research basis and new aerospace applications

28 November - 8 December 1983 The Spacelab embarks on its maiden voyage aboard the Space Shuttle with the first ever West German astronaut Ulf Merbold. More scientific experiments are carried out in the German-built laboratory on this maiden voyage than on all previous European space missions.
4 August 1984 The first of eleven launches of the European launcher Ariane-3, a development of Ariane-1, from French Guyana (payload 2.65 tonnes).
2 July 1985 Launch of the European comet probe Giotto. The mission is to become a milestone in comet research as, on 14 March 1986, at a distance of only 600 kilometres approximately it passes by the comet's coma and revolutionises the world's knowledge of comets.
16 August 1985 Launch of the Anglo-German-American Mission Ampte whose mission is to study the magnetosphere and the solar wind.
30 October 1985

Launch of the astronautical research mission D1 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. The crew includes German astronauts Ernst Messerschmid and Reinhard Furrer. The Federal Republic of Germany assumes responsibility for the preparation and execution of 75 scientific experiments. The DFVLR assumes overall responsibility for the management of the mission.

At the ESA council of ministers’ conferences in Rome in 1985 and in the Hague in 1987, the course is set for the ESA's reformed infrastructure programme. Columbus under German management will serve as the European research module for the ISS international space station. Under the aegis of the French the European space plane Hermes is conceived; the programme is subsequently abandoned. Thirdly, the decision is taken to continue developing the European rocket system with plans for Ariane-5, capable of launching two large-scale satellites simultaneously.

30 May 1986 The first of six launches of the European launcher Ariane-2 with the same capability as Ariane-3 but without the solid booster (payload 2.27 tonnes).
16 June 1988 Maiden voyage of the European launcher Ariane-4, a greatly modified version of Ariane-3, boasting a more flexible design and higher performance and number of variants - it can be fitted with solid or liquid fuelled booster rockets allowing it to increase its payload range from 2.07 to 4.9 tonnes. The launch vehicle proves to be reliable and achieves a success rate of 97.4% which means that Ariane-4 with its market share of over 60% becomes the world's most successful commercial launch system.
1989 Creation of the Deutsche Agentur für Raumfahrtangelegenheiten (DARA) – German Aerospace Agency. It is commissioned to oversee the planning and coordination of state-funded German aerospace initiatives and to represent Germany at meetings of international bodies. In the same year the DFVLR is renamed the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR) - the German Aerospace Centre.
8 August 1989 Launch of the retrievable space platform Eureca developed in Germany and on board which experiments can be carried out remotely. Tests are carried out on rendezvous and coupling manoeuvres, new communication methods and for the first time European ion propulsion technology is implemented allowing continuous orbit changes.
18 October 1989 The Galileo research mission to Jupiter is inaugurated with the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. There are three German experiments aboard the space probe. On 13 September 1995 the space probe reaches the largest planet in our solar system, separates and plunges into the planet’s atmosphere.. On 7 December it is the first spacecraft to enter the atmosphere of one of the outer planets. During the descent which lasts barely one hour data on the prevailing gas and cloud composition, the heat balance, the lightning phenomena as well as the flow of energetic particles present in the planet’s upper atmosphere will be transmitted to Earth. Up until September 2003 the orbiter transmits spectacular new photos and data on Jupiter and its moons.
25 April 1990 The most successful space telescope, the Hubble, is launched. European scientists make up 25% of its users. The “Faint-Object Camera" developed and built by the company Dornier allows the telescope to view very faint UV light from 120-700 nanometres in wavelength, which from Earth would be impossible. The space camera which weighs 320 kg is designed to view very faint celestial bodies at a magnitude of 29, e.g. neutron stars, quasars and galaxies. The resolution of the FOC is such that it would be able to detect a burning candle on the night side of the Earth from Hubble’s orbit at 590 kilometres.
1 June 1990 Launch of the X-ray satellite Rosat whose mission is to provide an all-sky survey using an imaging telescope with an X-ray sensitivity. The observatory which weighs two tonnes is operated by Germany whilst Great Britain and the USA oversee a part of its technical equipment and the USA manages the launch of the satellite. Rosat remains in operation for nine years.
6 October 1990 In a joint European and American mission, the probe Ulysses begins its maiden voyage around the star at the centre of our solar system but in a perpendicular orbit over the sun’s poles. The probe carries out studies on the dispersion of the solar wind, the heliospheric magnetic field, X-ray radiation, radio and plasma waves, solar particles, eruptions and coronal mass ejections above the as yet unexplored  German research institutes are involved in a total of eight of the twelve experiments.
17 July 1991 An Ariane-4 launches the European Earth Observation Satellite ERS-1. Under German management the satellite monitors the conditions of the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and land surface. Throughout its nine year mission 1.5 million radar photographs have been taken.
22 January 1992 Launch of the IML - 1 mission on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. The aim of the mission is to carry out experiments in the materials and life sciences; the German astronaut Merbold is also on board.
17 - 25 March 1992 Germano-Russian mission Mir’92 involving the German astronaut Klaus Dietrich Flade.
26 April 1993 Launch of the D2 research mission on board the Space Shuttle Columbia involving the German astronauts Hans Schlegel and Ulrich Walter. Pioneering studies are carried out on the effects of space travel on the cardio-vascular system, the immune system, receptor systems, the psychology of working, electric field-induced cell fusion and robotics. 27 German universities including 36 institutes, three large-scale research institutes as well as 22 universities from partner states across Europe are involved in the mission.
3 October - 4 November 1994 EuroMir 94 mission involving the German astronaut Merbold.
21 April 1995 Launch of the second ESA Earth Observation Satellite ERS-2. The data it collects helps to prove that the atmosphere is getting warmer and the ice caps at the poles are melting. The ERS makes it possible for the first time to convict captains of ships caught dumping toxic waste at sea.
3 September 1995 - 16 January 1996 Launch of the EuroMir 95 Mission involving the German astronaut Thomas Reiter, who holds the record for the most days logged in space amongst Western European astronauts.
17 November 1995 Launch of the ESA Infrared Space Observatory ISO. The ISO, from its approximately 26 000 observations, is able, amongst other things, to identify a series of substances in pre-stellar cloud cores undetected previously in space, to detect new celestial bodies and to prove that planets can form not only around young but also dying stars.
4 July 1996 The maiden voyage of the new Ariane-5 with its four cluster solar satellites fails.
4 December 1996 Launch of the American Mars Mission Pathfinder. Two experiments as well as parts of the on-board electronics are from Germany.
10 February - 2 March 1997 Mir’97 Mission involving the German astronaut Reinhold Ewald. During his stay aboard the Russian space station a fire breaks out on 23 February which, however, is quickly extinguished.
1 October 1997 Amalgamation of DARA with DLR which henceforth will be called the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt - German Aerospace Centre.
15 October 1997 Launch of the joint European and American Saturn Mission Cassini-Huygens. After its 4.5 billion kilometre journey the European landing unit Huygens dives into the atmosphere of Saturn's satellite Titan on 14 January 2005. The mother probe Cassini explores the Saturn system of rings and more than 40 moons.
30 October 1997 The second launch of an Ariane-5 succeeds. According to type, the Ariane-5 can carry 6 - 10 tonnes of payload to geostationary transfer orbit.
7 - 17. December 1999 First parabolic flight for the DLR with the Airbus A300 ZERO-G, carrying out eight scientific experiments. The space agency of the DLR carries out a parabolic flight on a yearly basis. In 2006 it carries out two for the first time.
10 December 1999 Launch of the European X-ray space observatory XXM-Newton from Kourou. It is the largest ESA scientific satellite to date. It studies black holes, exploding stars and the central regions of galaxy clusters.
11 - 22 February 2000 SRTM Mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Its aim is to provide a digital, three-dimensional radar topography of the Earth’s surface; the German astronaut Gerhard Thiele is on board.
15 July 2000 Launch of the geo satellite Champ, almost exclusively built in the former GDR. Its mission is to provide precise gravity and magnetic field measurements as well as to sound the atmosphere and the ionosphere.
16 July and 9 August 2000 Launch of the four cluster spacecraft Cluster II. Its mission is to study the interaction between the sun and the Earth.
22 October 2001 Launch of the German micro satellite Bird from the Indian PSLV launcher Shriharikota. Mission goals include infrared terrestrial analysis.
1 March 2002 Launch of the European environmental satellite Envisat. Envisat with a total mass of 8140 kg is the largest and most complex satellite ever constructed by the member states of ESA and launched into space. Ten experiments covering all disciplines relating to the scientific observation of planet Earth are carried out.
16 March 2002 Launch of the joint German – American space probe Grace. The mission’s goal is to provide detailed measurements of the Earth's gravity. Grace is a continuation of the Champ mission. The DLR provides the launch rocket, oversees ground operations and data preparation.
29 August 2002 Launch of the first second generation meteorological satellite, MSG.
17 October 2002 Launch of the ESA gamma ray observatory Integral from Baikonur.
2 June 2003 Launch of the first ESA planetary probe Mars Express fitted with the HRSC stereo camera developed by the DLR. The HRSC camera images another planet in 3-D and with a high resolution.
2 March 2004 Launch of the European space probe Rosetta which in 2014 will orbit around the comet Churyumov-Gersimenko and accompany it for a year on its way towards the sun. The lander Philae is developed under the management of the DLR.
9 November 2005 Launch of the ESA planetary probe Venus Express.
28 December 2005 Giove-A is launched as the first satellite of the European navigation system Galileo. From 2010 with the aid of 30 satellites Galileo will greatly improve traffic security and guidance, route and transport capacity planning as well as fleet management.
4 July - 22 December 2006 Launch of the Astrolab mission involving the German astronaut Thomas Reiter on the first ESA long duration mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Reiter is again the Western European astronaut with the most days logged in space: almost a year.
19 October 2006 Launch of the polar-orbiting European meteorological satellite Metop.
26 October 2006 Launch of the American mission Stereo. The mission goal is to study the sun with contributions from German agencies.
27 December 2006 Launch of the space telescope Corot in its search for planets outside our solar system.


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