Jan Wörner Blog

Setting the course… to dare for more DLR!

20.02.2014 | posted by Jan Wörner

The German federal government has been getting down to business, the New Year is well under way, and institutional and personal resolutions and claims have been set down at various New Year's receptions. For the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) these are to keep up the good work, continue making important contributions to national and global challenges, and to make the best possible use of the money entrusted to us by the taxpayers. All this comes at a time marked not only by political manoeuvring, but also by large-scale societal changes that influence our actions. read more

Software update for Columbus

14.02.2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

"Do not switch off your computer, an important update is being installed" – this message frequently drives me to distraction. My laptop has the annoying habit of beginning this kind of modification precisely when I need it to get hold of some information quickly just before rushing to my next appointment. What also bothers me is that I never really know what is going on inside the computer that supposedly belongs to me – so different to the periodic updates for Columbus on-board software. read more

Congratulations Columbus!

07.02.2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

Wow! Today, you could say some of us have spent six years of our lives 'in the spotlight' – because Columbus has now been in orbit for exactly six years! Not many of the original 'pioneers' remain – you can count them on the fingers of one hand. Those were some exciting days, back in February 2008. The 1E-mission – the first 'European' flight of the Space Shuttle that would take the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS), had been repeatedly postponed for various reasons over the years; in particular, the Columbia tragedy in February 2003 pushed the ISS schedule back a long way. Finally, the launch of 'our spaceship' was set for 6 December 2007 – there were some tense minutes when, just a couple of hours before lift-off, the launch was cancelled for technical reasons. So near and yet so far from the start of the mission! In the days that followed, and after long discussions, the launch date was set for 7 February 2008. The team would be able to enjoy a quiet and relaxing Christmas holiday – the last one for some years to come… read more

Col-CC blog – the beginning

03.02.2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

Human spaceflight in itself is exciting – increasingly so for those of us in Europe and DLR in 2014, with the launch of two ESA astronauts, German Alexander Gerst and Italian Samantha Cristoforetti, to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will conduct research. read more

Ariane 5 – milestones reached at the end of the year

19.12.2013

Nothing is more gratifying than starting the holidays with good news! A good example of this is ESA's Ariane 5 programme, which has taken some important steps in the closing days of the current year – the ordering of a further 18 Ariane 5 ECA launchers for the existing Ariane operations, the successful completion of 'verification key points' for the Ariane 5 ME 'Midlife Evolution' development programme and the start of construction work on a new upper stage tank facility in Bremen. read more

Science, science management, science policy … part 3

12.11.2013 | posted by Jan Wörner

Science needs flexibility if it is to produce innovation from creativity. At the same time, it is understandable that taxpayers demand sensible use of the funds they provide. Dispelling this apparent contradiction – individual 'liberty' versus societal expectations – is the primary task of those involved in the planning of research activities; that is, science managers. Political bodies have the task of formulating policy anywhere – but only there – where it can be defined on the basis of democratic legitimacy that is derived from elections. read more

Philae in der Testanlage des DLR

T minus 377 days!

30.10.2013

377 days remain, just over one year– quite a significant amount of time. Considering that the duration of the mission up to landing is 3906 days, this is merely the final10 percent of a 10-year-long journey through interplanetary space. read more

Philae-Lander an Bord der Rosettasonde

Rosetta and Philae – Nomen est omen

22.10.2013

Scientists often use abbreviations to designate their missions or projects; examples are MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) or SHEFEX (Sharp Edged Flight Experiment). But ESA’s Rosetta mission, which will mark a first in the history of space exploration by becoming the first spacecraft to follow a comet and carry a lander that will touch down on the comet, was given its name for a different reason. The name refers to the Rosetta Stone, which allowed hieroglyphs to be deciphered. read more

Science, science management, science policy… Part 2

15.10.2013 | posted by Jan Wörner

In the previous blog entry about various aspects of research and development, I attempted to cast some light on the different roles of science, science management and science policy. Let us assume for reasons of simplicity (and quite contrary to reality) that all protagonists involved behave in their respective fields of responsibility in such a way that, ultimately, science operates optimally. In a slightly liberal interpretation of what Saint-Exupéry wrote: 'Science is not there to foresee, but to enable.' (The original quote by Saint-Exupéry is: Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.). But this is by no means the end of the journey in practical terms. read more

Das DLR-Gelände aus der Vogelperspektive

German federal parliamentary elections and their consequences

01.10.2013 | posted by Jan Wörner

On 22 September 2013, two events significant to DLR took place – the German federal parliamentary elections and 'German Aerospace Day', held in Cologne. By opening up our research labs and offering a wide-ranging programme of events, we were able to, together with our partners, the European Space Agency (ESA), Cologne/Bonn Airport and the German Air Force, welcome tens of thousands of visitors to Cologne-Porz. It was great to see that the research being conducted at DLR was met with such an enthusiastic response on the part of the general public; even long lines did not discourage visitors, both young and old, from taking part. The federal parliamentary elections were held on the same day and, in addition to polling voters about their party preferences, it would have been interesting to find out where they stood on issues relating to research and development. read more

Science, science management and science policy…

18.09.2013 | posted by Jan Wörner

Though none could claim seriously that research, development and science tip the balance in the outcome of elections, they nevertheless retain a fundamental significance: the insight we acquire today will serve tomorrow in the interests of safeguarding our country and our society as a whole. This is especially true for countries that, as a result of geographical, geological and other regional factors, focus on investing in 'minds' – because they have to. Thus, the development of research, development and science is relevant, and leads individuals to 'interesting' conclusions. But beware – in the words of Max Weber: "Academic life is a mad hazard," it is resistant to short-term planning! read more

Mascot

First test on Japanese soil

26.08.2013 | posted by Christian Grimm

The MASCOT asteroid lander will be delivered to the Japanese space agency JAXA at the start of next year. It will be integrated into the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft and prepared for launch, scheduled for late 2014. There is still a long way to go, but there is little time! read more

Mascot

MASCOT: A 'shoebox' with complex inner workings

21.08.2013 | posted by Christian Grimm

The 'small’ asteroid lander MASCOT will set off for asteroid 1999 JU3 on board the Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission at the end of 2014. Although from the outside it seems to be the size of a shoebox, the lander’s stature is deceiving! Its sophisticated and highly developed payload, and its powerful communication and computing system make MASCOT a high-tech, albeit very compact, autonomous spacecraft, perfectly equipped to cope with the arduous and long mission it faces. read more