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Oleg Kononenko

Kontur-2 – Controlling robots remotely from space

19. August 2015

Although only about 400 kilometres separate the Kontur-2 joystick and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) ROKVISS robot, the remote control operations that took place on 18 August 2015 were truly special: Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, flying aboard the International Space Station (ISS) over Earth at 28,000 kilometres per hour, controlled the robot on the ground while in microgravity. The connection between space and Earth is not one-directional – the ROKVISS (Robotic Components Verification on the ISS) sends data back to the joystick when contact forces occur on the ground. At 16:37 CEST (ISS orbit 3775), the metal fingers of the robot moved for the first time – controlled remotely from space. “At that moment, Kononenko not only saw what was happening using a camera, but, through the joystick, felt exactly what was happening with the robot in our laboratory,” says Jordi Artigas from the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics. In autumn 2015 the first ‘tele-handshake’ will be performed between the ISS and Earth with this technology, when the DLR Robot ‘Space Justin’ remotely shakes hands with someone on Earth from space – with force feedback.


KONTUR-2 – remote control in space

22. July 2015

The new crew on their way to the International Space Station (ISS) – cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and astronauts Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren – will be carrying a compact piece of luggage on board the Soyuz spacecraft. The KONTUR-2 joystick developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is setting off to its new destination. Upon arrival, Kononenko will be responsible for working with the device and in August will operate the ROKVISS (Robotic Components Verification on the ISS) robot installed at the DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center using the remote control. What makes this special? The cosmonaut will not only see a camera image of the robot sent up from the ground, he will also, at a distance of over 400 kilometres, feel precisely what the robot back on Earth touches. This is enabled by a mechanism in KONTUR-2 that detects exactly how strongly it touches another object, as well as other metrics. The telepresence experiment is designed to give its operator the impression of being on-site at the laboratory – and not in orbit around Earth.

WiSe-Net – tomorrow's technologies in miniature format

19. March 2015

The environmental conditions on board the International Space Station ISS are strictly controlled; there are only very slight variations in temperature, humidity, air pressure and light intensity.

Farewell, Georges Lemaître – ATV burns up during re-entry

15. February 2015

The final farewell; Georges Lemaître, the fifth and last European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) performed a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and burned up at around 19:00 CET on 15 February. Its task had been to transport supplies and experiments to the International Space Station (ISS) and to raise and adjust the International Space Station ISS orbit. The era of ATV space transporters has now drawn to a close with its retirement from service – but the expertise gained during their development and operation will live on as part of the European service module fitted to the United States Orion space capsule.

ATV technology for the new Orion space capsule

17. November 2014

Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) started on 20 November 1998 with the launch of the Russian cargo and propulsion module 'Zarya' (Dawn).

Ankunft in Köln

Welcome back Alexander! – German ESA astronaut back on Earth

10. November 2014

German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is back on Earth after spending five and a half months in space. The 38-year-old geophysicist and flight engineer landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan roughly 100 kilometres from the city of Arkalyk at 04:58 CET (09:58 local time) on 10 November 2014 after a three and a half hour return journey on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.


Precise arrival at 28,000 kilometres per hour

14. August 2014

The target field on the International Space Station (ISS) where the final European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo carrier, ATV-5 Georges Lemaître, recently docked is just 60 centimetres tall. The spacecraft arrived at 15:29:53 CEST on 12 August 2014, precisely manoeuvring automatically to arrive at the Station, at an altitude of around 400 kilometres. Astronaut Alexander Gerst had one primary task – to monitor the docking process and cancel the automated procedure in the event of an emergency. Inside the 20-ton craft are experiments such as the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML) and the DLR magnetic experiment MagVector/MFX, together with food, coffee and clothing for the astronauts, fuel, air and drinking water, as well as a replacement pump for the water treatment system in the Columbus research laboratory. Overall, the ATV-5 transported roughly 6.6 tons of cargo into space. The sophisticated unloading process now begins for the teams in the control rooms at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen and Cologne.

ATV Georges Lemaître set to reach Space Station on 12 August

8. August 2014

Following its textbook launch on 30 July 2014, the fifth and final supply spacecraft in the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) series is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). The freighter – which is named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, father of the Big Bang theory – is roughly the same size as a London double-decker bus and, together with its payload, weighs more than 20 tons. Scheduled to dock with the Space Station at 15:34 CEST on 12 August, it will supply the ISS with fuel, food and new experiments; it will remain attached to the Station for at least five months.

Last mission for the ATV European space freighter

30. July 2014

So far, four European space freighters have carried supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). At 01:47 CEST on 30 July 2014, Georges Lemaître – the fifth and last European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) – lifted off from the spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana carrying experiments such as an electromagnetic levitator (EML), a furnace, that the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will install and commission. Also on board are items needed for everyday life in space such as coffee and snacks, and additional supplies to replenish the stocks of fuel, water and air. The freighter is scheduled to dock with the Space Station on 12 August 2014.


Survivalists ready for journey to the ISS

22. July 2014

Tough, resilient and able to survive in the most inhospitable regions on Earth –now, they are being asked to show their strength in a space environment as well; blue-green algae (cyanobacteria of the genus Nostoc) and biofilms (deinococcus geothermalis) will depart for the International Space Station (ISS) at 23:44 CEST on 23 July 2014 on board a Progress spacecraft.


Choreography with the ISS robot arm

15. July 2014

At 12:39 CEST on 16 July 2014, the Cygnus Orbital-2 transport vehicle will approach the International Space Station (ISS), closing to a separation of just 12 metres. At this moment, astronaut Alexander Gerst and his colleague Steve Swanson will be called on to capture the transporter and dock it with the Space Station.

Alexander Gerst

'Guinea pig' in space

11. June 2014

Alexander Gerst has been living and working in microgravity since 29 May 2014, and the focus of his initial research on the International Space Station (ISS) is currently himself.

Alexander Gerst – arrival at the ISS

29. May 2014

German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and his colleagues, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and American astronaut Reid Wiseman, have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS).

DLR and US corporation TBE sign partnership for Earth observation instrument on board the ISS

20. May 2014

On 20 May 2014 at the ILA Berlin Air Show, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the US corporation Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. (TBE) signed an agreement to install and operate the imaging spectrometer DESIS (DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer) on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Alexander Gerst

'Blue Dot' – Alexander Gerst's mission to space

9. May 2014

The final exam in Russia has been passed, four and a half years of astronaut training across the globe are complete – and now, less than three weeks remain until the astronaut Alexander Gerst loses the ground under his feet for six months.

Why do astronauts' immune systems become weakened?

18. April 2014

DLR sends two biomedical experiments from the University of Magdeburg to the ISS. Also on board – NASA cameras for Columbus Eye, the DLR student experiment.

Ask astronaut Alexander anything

11. March 2014

German European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst is all set for the 'Blue Dot' mission to the International Space Station in May. Crewmates NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and commander-cosmonaut Maxim Surayev will hold a media conference on Tuesday 18 March 2014 and ESA is inviting you to ask questions via Twitter.

Life of an astronaut – Alexander Gerst's blog

17. February 2014

In 100 days, German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will be launched to the International Space Station ISS with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and cosmonaut commander Maxim Surayev.


The ISS turns 15 – from a ‘heavenly’ construction site to a research laboratory in the sky

20. November 2013

Floating water droplets, a Canadian astronaut singing his own version of David Bowie's ‘Major Tom’, spacewalks, or beautiful views of Earth from the Cupola – the images that reach Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) never cease to surprise. Things were different 15 years ago; on this very day, 20 November 1998, the first component of the ISS was launched. This ‘heavenly’ construction began with the Russian Zarya module, a cargo and control module. Today, six astronauts live and work 365 days a year in the space research laboratory. Also on board are numerous experiments supported by scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) or funded by the DLR Space Administration.

From the ISS to Mars

20. August 2013

On 20 August 2013, 12 space agencies, among them the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), published the second version of a Global Exploration Roadmap.

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