It is the world's longest running rocket programme for conducting research in microgravity, and today it is celebrating an anniversary. Around 35 years after the launch of the first TEXUS mission in December 1977, the 50th TEXUS rocket was successfully launched into space from the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna in northern Sweden on 12 April 2013 at 06:25 CEST.
From the outside it looks like just a large industrial robotic arm with a cockpit, but to the pilot inside the simulator, it feels like a real aircraft. The pilot sits at the controls, and the flight commands are converted into corresponding movements of the robotic arm in real time.
It began in the summer of 2009, with two legs and a camera mounted on top – but it was still far from being a robot of humanoid appearance. Gradually, the TOrque controlled humanoid RObot (TORO), the German Aerospace Center's (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) walking machine, has become more human-like – an upper body, a head with camera eyes and arms have been added.
Temperatures alternating between extreme heat and cold, electromagnetic radiation and weightlessness – environmental conditions prevailing in space are harsh. Nevertheless, satellite components and those of the International Space Station ISS and other systems must withstand these conditions and continue to function reliably. Within the national "On-Orbit-Verification"-(OOV)-Programme- the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) is testing the maturity of space technologies under real condtitions in their intended space environment. The core element of this programme is the small satellite TET-1 built by the prime contractor Kayser-Threde GmbH of Munich.
The original Philae comet lander has been travelling through space since 2 March 2004. It is currently in hibernation mode, awaiting its arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But the Philae models on the ground are being put through their paces: they are being tested to breaking point and examined by DLR.
Last week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its choice of scientific experiments for the JUICE Mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer). The decision taken involved two experiments developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research.
Near Hanksville, Utah, in the United States, but 'on Mars'. At least that is what Volker Maiwald will feel when he embarks on his two-week mission in the Mars Desert Research Station on 23 February 2013.
From the outside it resembles a shiny barrel; inside, however, it contains a myriad of possibilities for scientific work under microgravity conditions. The European Columbus research module has been flying through space for five years, attached to the International Space Station (ISS).
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is using knowledge for tomorrow to shape the future of our society today. DLR is a world-renowned partner for research and will continue to develop its international network in 2013 by establishing new collaborations with research institutes and universities.
From the research stage to full operation – The Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) is now on call around the clock. This service facility established in 2004 provides up-to-the minute satellite-based maps for activities related to natural and environmental disasters, humanitarian aid, and civil security worldwide. On 22 January 2013 the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) officially launched regular ZKI operations.
For 205 days in 2011, Jens Titze, Professor of Electrolyte and Circulatory Research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and his team strictly controlled the diet for the Mars500 test subjects during their virtual flight to Mars.
The vision is enticing – board in Europe, sit back, and disembark 90 minutes later on the other side of the world, in Australia. But before the SpaceLiner, which is being developed by the Institute of Space Systems at DLR, can fly a route like this for the first time, new technologies still have to be tested and basic requirements defined.
To the naked eye there is nothing to see, and yet the small transparent container holds something never observed before. For the first time, scientists are studying asteroid dust collected by a spacecraft and returned to Earth. Ute Böttger, from the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), belongs to one of 11 teams across the world that are carrying out scientific work on the asteroid particles from the Japanese Hayabusa mission.
There are very few ways of conducting experiments without the influence of Earth's gravity. One of these platforms became available on 25 November 2012, when a rocket was launched from the Swedish Esrange Space Center in Kiruna.
On 20 and 21 November 2012, delegates from the 20 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada met at the 'Mostra d'Oltremare' conference centre in Naples, Italy.
The first two satellites for the European Galileo navigation system have been orbiting Earth since 21 October 2011. Now, two more are about to follow; on 12 October 2012 at 20:15 CEST, a Soyuz rocket will launch satellites three and four into their position in space.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have been instrumental in the preparation of a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) regarding the development of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Based on estimates, by about the mid 21st century, the ozone layer will have the same thickness as it had in the early eighties.
When the Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission is launched towards asteroid 1999 JU 3 in 2014 to collect surface samples, MASCOT – the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout – an asteroid lander developed by DLR will be on board.
A robotic arm controlled entirely by the thoughts of a paraplegic woman – to accomplish this, Patrick van der Smagt from DLR and John P. Donoghue from Brown University in the USA 'networked' expertise from their two research disciplines, robotics and neuroscience.
A service satellite captures an uncontrollable satellite in space, repairs or refuels it and, at the end of the mission, ensures that the defective satellite is disposed of in a controlled manner. Something that sounds like science fiction is now a step closer to reality.