Columbus Blog

Astronauts and the Internet – the final frontier

28.04.2014

A colleague from Cologne sent me an email about this blog – I received it on my work mobile phone, although actually I was at Chiemsee, on holiday over Easter – modern technology made this possible. And it all seemed so entirely natural to me, although there’s no Internet connection anywhere nearby, no computer with a mail program, and no cumbersome process of logging on to this or that terminal… read more

Spaceflight means teamwork

14.04.2014

When we report from the Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) on the latest developments on the International Space Station (ISS), we do so not only as one of the five main control centres for the ISS, but also as one of the many control centres for the European part of the work conducted on the Space Station. read more

A close encounter

24.03.2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

"I have something nice to post in our blog," said my colleague Cesare Capararo from the console. What he had to say made me put the certification plan I was working on down and walk over to the office of satellite experts Jaap Herrman, Michael Kirschner and Kay Müller – a very special rendezvous will occur in space on Friday 28 March 2014. read more

Another term comes to an end…

17.03.2014

There was, once again, a nice change of pace this week, not on the console or in the office, but in our training room! One of my extra jobs – in fact it has actually become more of my focus – is training. In particular, training the new colleagues that will support us after their roughly nine-month 'apprenticeship' at the console. read more

Congratulations Columbus!

07.02.2014

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

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

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

Das DLR-Gelände aus der Vogelperspektive

German federal parliamentary elections and their consequences

01.10.2013

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

The 'European' Pandora's Box

05.06.2013

Unfortunately, the debate regarding the relationship between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU) continues, although the essential aspects have been clarified and the integration of ESA into the EU is off the table – not just for legal reasons. The myth of Pandora's Box tells the story of how Zeus gave Pandora a box with the instruction that it should be passed on to other people, but never be opened. However, Pandora opened the box, from which vices and bad habits escaped … read more

ESA und EU

From a 'cold potato' to a 'dead horse' …

22.05.2013

Some time ago, in this blog, I wrote about a heated debate concerning a 'cold potato'; back then, I discussed the relationship between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU). Germany does not support the current efforts to integrate ESA into the EU. We consider an intergovernmental European Space Agency to be necessary for a sustainable way of working. Time has passed, and the 'cold potato' has become a 'dead horse'. It has been clear for some time that this integration is not only illogical, but also unworkable. read more

A heated debate concerning 'a cold potato'

09.11.2012

My blog has been quiet in recent weeks; the reason for this is that it has been hectic. Too many appointments and events – from the ILA Berlin Airshow and the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, to internal appointments within DLR – have fully taken up the time allocated to me by Earth's rotation. One particularly important event is the upcoming ESA Council meeting at ministerial level, which will also take place in Naples, on 20 and 21 November 2012. This meeting is being built up as a directional decision-making session dealing with a range of open questions. read more

Tweeting from space for the digital public

21.05.2012

Three space agencies, DLR, ESA and NASA, as well as their astronauts tweet, blog and post messages on a wide array of social media channels; often, they or respectively their astronauts even do so from space. Why do they do this, and how does it work? Here is what astronauts and social media experts at DLR, ESA and NASA had to say on this subject at re:publica 2012, Germany’s largest and most prominent conference on the future of society and all things digital. read more