Research at STIM focuses on creating an understanding of the mechanisms and dynamics of technology developments within the space sector. Because the space sector has its own unique market constraints, technologies are developed along different pathways than in terrestrial sectors. Understanding these unique pathways can lead to the identification of technologies which can dramatically improve upon the state of the art of technology capabilities and thus, disrupt the space sector. Using this understanding, the development of these technologies can be influenced and quickened by redirecting funding. Part of this initiative involves the following projects:
The exploration (and exploitation) of space has resulted in many technological advances for humanity in areas such as materials, navigation, telecommunications, medicine and many others. Improving the capabilities of space technologies in order to increase the benefits that the utilization of space can offer is a major goal of all space faring nations. Since the Apollo age, the space sector has concentrated mainly on a conservative method of technology development, focusing on low risk incremental and sustaining innovations, rather than on breakthrough, game changing, radical or disruptive innovations. One of the reasons for this situation is the fact that space technology development requires long and costly development phases with strict performance and environmental requirements. Another reason of this situation is the very high cost of space transportation. These two reasons have resulted in very stringent quality and flight heritage requirements for new technologies. This situation, in turn, has created a paradigm, where the usage of technologies with meager or non-existing flight heritage is discouraged and, consequently, new technologies do not gain flight heritage because they are not selected. Despite the existence of several projects that are trying to bridge this valley of death within technology evolution, many technologies still end up in the dust bin after substantial investments. Because of this, there is a clear requirement for an (early stage) identification of technologies that could significantly improve the capabilities of space applications, in order to allow these technologies to overcome the valley of death and eventually become fully developed. This identification of potential high-gain technologies can be achieved by mapping the factors that determine and influence the market potential of a technology. The most successful technologies will be disruptive to the state-of-the-art of space technologies and will therefore be called Disruptive Space Technologies (DSTs). The aim of this project is to create an understanding of the underlying processes that govern these technology disruptions in the space sector and to find potentially disruptive technologies.
The objectives of this study were to identify new technologies that could be used for platforms of geostationary telecommunication satellites in the next decade. Technologies are related to spacecraft systems and sub-systems, as well as to cross-sectional technologies. Selection of technologies was aimed to implement spacecraft functions with higher performance, lower mass & volume and cost. Besides DLR & OHB System AG, industrial suppliers, public institutes, research labs and research departments of Universities evolved as main contributors for the study. In order to screen potential technologies we focused on:
For each selected technology a high level forecast of mandatory steps for the development is provided to reach a TRL 6/7 in a 10 year time frame. The output of the study consists in a set of technologies that would be eligible for use in the frame of future geostationary-satellite telecommunication platforms.
This project is designed to be a follow up of the Disruptive Technologies for GEO Telecommunication Satellite Platforms project. This project focused on the identification, evaluation and roadmapping of Disruptive Space Technologies. Although this project was beneficial for identifying the potential funding for several technologies technology relevant to telecommunication platforms, it failed in mapping all technology developments relevant to the telecommunications sector within Europe today or gives any insights into technology developments over time. Because of this, the DLR proposes the design of a scanning and monitoring system of technologies relevant to telecommunications segment (platforms, payloads & ground segment) and Assembly, Integration & Test process (AIT). This project consists out of two parts:
In this part methods will be developed which can be used for the identification of relevant technology developments. Possible sources for technology development information include: Patents, Publications, Cross-functional lead user analysis, Key-Players survey, Internal and external technology databases and Innovation identification algorithms. All technologies will be categorized in a database of technologies. This database will be updated periodically using the before mentioned methods.
After an initial pool of technologies is entered in the database, a process can be designed to monitor the development of the technologies over time. This can be done using search query analysis, patent application, bibliometrics and many more. This step includes the software and architecture to support monitoring of technology developments. After several years of gathering information, the ongoing research as well as the research interest in the technology can be assessed. This will allow space technology funding within Europe to be streamlined according the latest developments and demand of the European space sector.
This project focused on the identification, evaluation and roadmapping of Disruptive Space Technologies. Within this and another GSTP sponsored project (Disruptive Technologies for Space Applications), several advanced materials and manufacturing techniques were identified which have a high potential to be disruptive to the space sector. These materials are:
The DLR performed a study of the different applications and impacts the future development of these materials and techniques might have. This allows the mapping of current existing applications as well as the identification of new applications.