Aeronautics, space, transportation and energy research - the DLR is working on many topics that are inherently fascinating and socially highly relevant, and that offer forward-looking perspectives. They range from designing the aeroplane of tomorrow, to deploying satellites and probes to conduct environmental research or to explore our cosmic neighbourhood, to designing transportation systems for the future and deploying renewable energies. In addition to this, the DLR, in its role as space agency, develops and implements the German space programme on behalf of the German federal government.
Leading aviation technology in new directions with novel ideas and developing aircraft designs that reinvent passenger flight beyond the sound barrier or that are revolutionarily quiet and low-emission – these are the two challenges that the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with NASA, is tasking students within Germany and the United States.
The Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife) is funded by the Helmholtz Association (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft) for a period of six years (beginning in April 2009) and receives additional funds from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Using the Helmholtz funds, the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine (DLR-Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin) in Cologne, in collaboration with the universities of Aachen, Bonn, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Frankfurt, Hohenheim, Kiel, Magdeburg, Regensburg, the Free University Berlin, the Beihang University in Beijing and the German Sport University Cologne, established the first Helmholtz Research School at DLR: an intensive training programme for early-stage researchers from Germany and from abroad.
How do human beings respond to living in weightlessness? How do plants and animals perceive the direction from which gravity acts on them, and what happens when this important parameter is missing from the environment? How can we improve foundry processes? How did Saturn get its rings? Can a satellite antenna be unfolded reliably in weightlessness? Scientists at DLR, from universities, Max Planck Institutes, and many other institutions, are trying to answer these and many other questions by conducting experiments during parabolic flights.
At the Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) in the south-east Spain Almeria province, near the desert of Tabernas, scientists of the DLR Institute of Solar Research work under optimal climatic conditions. On this site, which exceeds 100 hectares, the full force of the Andalusian sun has been exploited since 1980 to test and optimise a variety of high-temperature solar technologies under conditions that approximate practice. More than 20,000 square metres of mirrors of various shapes in different test facilities concentrate the direct solar radiation to generate high and extremely high temperatures. These futuristic facilities in the midst of a barren landscape form the largest European test centre for high-temperature solar concentrating technologies: it is a world-leader in terms of variety.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) are jointly carrying out the REXUS/BEXUS programme to support the younger generation of engineers and scientists. This means that European students should be able to get practical experience in preparing and carrying out space exploration projects. Suggestions for experiments to be carried out in the gondola of a hot-air balloon (BEXUS - Balloon-EXperiments for University Students) or on a sounding rocket (REXUS - Rocket-EXperiments for University-Students) can be made each autumn. Suggestions are welcome until the end of the respective year.
International doctoral and postdoctoral students may apply for fellowships: The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst; DAAD) are recruiting more international researchers and scientists for Germany. For this reason, the two organisations have set up the joint "DLR-DAAD Research Fellowships" programme.
The manager of Oberpfaffenhofen airfield has been offering students of aeronautics and space exploration, and other interested atmospheric scientists, the opportunity of carrying out an 'in-flight practical'since 2005. The concept was developed in collaboration with universities and other institutes of further education and lets students experience research flights live.