Jan Wörner Blog

Former University President and DLR Board Chairman to be ESA Director General?

31.05.2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

The period of office for the current ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, ends in 2011. Because so far only one German, Reimar Lüst, has been director general of the European Space Agency since its inception, it seems fairly obvious for a German candidate to be in the running for the forthcoming election of a successor. Preliminary discussions with all ESA member states confirmed that a German candidate would have very good prospects. read more

Tests completed - the next TanDEM-X transmission will come from space

31.05.2010

With finalisation of the functional tests for the satellite bus and instrument, we have reached another important milestone. Evaluation of the test data confirmed that everything was nominal. In one of the last tests, the satellite was powered up solely by its internal supply and the external power was switched off. This too was successful, so the satellite was turned off and the wiring to the electrical test equipment was removed – a slightly melancholic moment. The next time we receive a signal from the spacecraft it will be in orbit, having separated from the launcher. read more

Energy question of the week: Is there such a thing as free electricity?

31.05.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

When we pay our electricity bill, we are paying for more than just the operation of wind turbines or nuclear power stations. What with rental for the electricity meter, costs for using the power grids, value-added tax and a tax on electricity, coupled with a surcharge for the preferred sourcing of green power, the final price we pay is effectively double the generation cost. Having said that, is it conceivable that there is such a thing as free electricity in the ever more dynamic power market? read more

SOFIA

DLR-Webcast: SOFIA - the flying infrared observatory

26.05.2010 | posted by Henning Krause

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, is a cooperative German-US space research project. The 2.7-metre telescope, housed in a Boeing 747SP, is designed to observe in the infrared. During flight, a four-by-six-metre door opens at the rear of the aircraft, through which the telescope can view the night sky. The plane is based in California; the telescope was designed and built in Germany. read more

A long test day begins

26.05.2010

Today, with the commencement of the Abbreviated Functional Test, the final checkout of the radar instrument began. The team is now complete - travelling yesterday from Moscow, additional colleagues from Astrium and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) arrived at just the right time. For most of them this is not their first stay here in Baikonur - they previously worked on TerraSAR-X and the facility and the working environment are familiar to them. read more

ISS Sun transit

25.05.2010 | posted by Marco Trovatello

DLR staff member Thilo Kranz took this great image in his leisure time last Sunday. It shows a transit of the Sun by the International Space Station ISS with Space Shuttle Atlantis docked. read more

The final checkout begins

25.05.2010

The fueling of the TanDEM-X satellite with hydrazine was completed on Saturday 22 May. This potentially hazardous operation was performed successfully by Astrium. Following this, the satellite was packed into its container and transported from the fueling station back to the integration facitity. After the arrival of new personnel from Germany on Tuesday, the final checkout of the satellite bus and instruments will start in the middle of this week. read more

Energy question of the week: Can laptops and iPads dispense with power sockets in the future?

25.05.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

'Mobile electricity' - that is, electricity available on the move - is the most valuable form of electrical power. This is why it is worthwhile equipping notebooks and laptops with expensive lithium-ion batteries that need to be recharged at regular intervals by plugging them into power sockets. The iPad, which looks set to spur the market for electronic reader devices, remains uninteresting without its batteries. However, solar cells and hand cranks are already able to generate standalone power for mobile devices. Will these devices be able to cope entirely on their own without power sockets someday? read more

Safety first in the fuelling hall

20.05.2010

TanDEM-X has left the integration facility for its reaction control system tank to be filled with hydrazine over the next few days. To do this, the satellite has been moved to the fuelling station as was reported earlier. Fuelling is a dangerous job, because the propellant used is quite toxic. When you enter the fuelling hall, the sign over the entrance reminds everyone to not forget the dangers. Translated, it reads, "Regardless of how urgent your work is, safety comes first." This is a reference to the devastating Nedelin fuelling catastrophe here in Baikonur in 1960, which took 126 lives. read more

TanDEM-X Blog

First check of the satellite and its instruments

18.05.2010

Everything is nominal here in Baikonur. Fuelling begins on Thursday. After their first checks, the the satellite and its instruments are functioning correctly. The launcher is ready in its silo, and the Russian Space Agency Roskosmos officially announced the launch on its home page last Saturday. read more

TanDEM-X in cleanroom

TanDEM-X makes progress

17.05.2010

We are now in the second week of our TanDEM-X launch campaign here in Baikonur. The satellite has been installed on its test rig and a quick check shows that the instrument and spacecraft are in good health. Meanwhile, the propulsion and cold gas systems have been pressurised to check that they are leak tight. read more

Energy question of the week: How much energy is there in the Earth's interior?

17.05.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Ninety-nine percent of the Earth is hotter than 1000 degrees Celsius. Inside Earth's core, temperatures rise to 7000 degrees. In total, the power within our planet amounts to thousands of billions of watts. This reservoir has its origins in the residual heat dating from the time the Earth was created, roughly 4.6 billion years ago, and in the ongoing radioactive decay of long-lived isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium. The question we need to ask ourselves is why, given these gigantic amounts of energy, does geothermal power still only account for far less than one percent of our energy usage? read more

TanDEM-X is in Baikonur

13.05.2010

It was a long, long way to Baikonur. Already, at the beginning of the trip, the cargo plane – loaded with 37 tons of TanDEM-X and its support equipment in six containers – was delayed for several hours. It was not until 22:45 that we were able to leave Munich. One might have hoped that the stop in Ulyanovsk would be short – but on the contrary, the customs checks were extensive and time consuming. read more