Columbus Blog

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

Bloggers and social media users – invitation to the commissioning of the Rosetta lander Philae in Cologne on 28 March

19.03.2014 | posted by Fabian Walker

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will explore the origins of the Solar System by studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, one of its oldest and most primordial bodies. The mission consists of an orbiter and the Philae lander. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has played a significant role in the development of Philae and operates the Lander Control Centre in Cologne. DLR is preparing for and will manage the difficult, daring and, never before attempted. landing on the comet nucleus. read more

Another term comes to an end…

17.03.2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

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

SOFIA am Flughafen von Christchurch, Neuseeland

SOFIA… a success story in jeopardy

14.03.2014 | posted by Jan Wörner

[Translated from the German original on 19 March 2014]

Since 2007, a converted Boeing 747 SP has been flying to look into the depths of space through an on-board telescope. This airborne observatory is a joint venture between the US space agency NASA and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). As part of the current budget statement for NASA, it was announced from Washington that it would not be possible to finance continued operations as of 2015. This would not only be a major blow for the scientists that have planned a great deal of interesting astronomical research for the coming years, but also for the relationship between NASA and DLR. read more

Paris bei Nacht

Joint declaration – Franco-German Ministerial Council

21.02.2014 | posted by Jan Wörner

The Franco-German Ministerial Council met in Paris on 19 February 2014 to discuss a wide range of topics. Aviation, space, energy, transport and security were all mentioned in the joint declaration, once again demonstrating that DLR is working on areas of high political relevance. This is interesting and important, but in addition, concrete decisions with regard to research and development that will affect our work here at DLR were included in the joint declaration. read more

Gegenstromprinzip (Grafik). Bild: CC-BY KönigsPanda.

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