On 1 April 2011, Gerd Gruppe joined the DLR Executive Board as Director of Space Administration in Bonn. An interim report after three months in office offers an opportunity to reflect on priorities and weightlessness, deep-shaft and opencast mining, and on basic research and applications.
On 6 April 2011, German scientists carried out their first astronomical observations on board the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA. A joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), SOFIA is the world's only operational airborne observatory. The first observations with the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, GREAT, included spectra of the Omega Nebula (M17) an active star-forming region in the Milky Way, and the galaxy IC 342, located a few million light years away.