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Space | 18. July 2018 | posted by Freya Scheffler-Kayser

Direct line to astronaut Alexander Gerst

Credit: DLR, all rights reserved, any kind of distribution prohibited
Students speak by radio with Alexander Gerst on the ISS

Working with the younger generation – getting children and young people interested in space, natural sciences and high-tech professions – is an important part of Alexander Gerst's 'horizons' mission. The ARISS calls – live radio contacts between selected schools and @Astro_Alex – are particularly popular. ARISS stands for 'Amateur Radio on the International Space Station' and is organised by Alexander Gerst, the mission team at the DLR Space Administration in Bonn and the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC). Each mission usually involves radio contact with three or four selected schools in Germany. But because it is such an unforgettable experience for the students, and demand far exceeds supply, Gerst made a personal effort to increase the number long before 'horizons' was underway. Ten ISS radio contacts have now been organised with 14 schools and three DLR_School_Labs in Germany, as well as with one school in St. Vith (Belgium). read more

Space | 13. July 2018 | posted by Christian Karrasch

CIMON – when science fiction becomes reality

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Picture-book launch of the SpaceX Falcon-9 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA, on the morning of 29 June 2018. CIMON is on board in the Dragon capsule

Cape Canaveral, Florida – it is really thrilling – go CIMON, go! Accompanied by a thunderous roar, the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher slowly rises from the launch pad above a dazzling stream of fire, delivering 7600 kilonewtons of thrust to thwart gravity painting a spectacular picture against the early morning skies over Florida. This 'dragon's tail' was even visible from the ISS itself. It takes the Dragon capsule for the SpaceX CRS-15 (Commercial Resupply Service) mission three days to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS), carrying a payload of precisely 2676 kilograms (provisions, equipment and scientific experiments) in the 'dragon's body'. What made this supply flight to the ISS so special was that it included a whole series of German experiments for Alexander Gerst's 'horizons' mission. Among them was CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion). read more

Space | 13. July 2018 | posted by Marta Cortesao

Monitoring microbes in spaceflight: the search for innovative antimicrobial surfaces

Marta Cortesao auf der ILA Berlin 2018 Science Slam, präsentiert, was Schimmel ist und wie er sich auf der ISS fühlt.
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Marta Cortesao at ILA Berlin 2018 Science Slam, presenting what mould is, and its presence on the ISS

The International Space Station (ISS) is more than just a laboratory. To astronauts, it is their home. To survive outside of Earth's protective atmosphere, astronauts depend on the station’s closed environment, where they have constant temperature and moisture, an atmosphere, and several life-support systems such as water recycling and waste management. When you are in such an isolated habitat, especially one surrounded by harsh space conditions, you want everything to go exactly as planned. So, what happens when your food, walls, windows and systems become colonised with unwelcome microbes? read more

Aeronautics | 11. July 2018 | posted by Johann Dauer

Unmanned helicopter superARTIS delivered humanitarian goods

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Preparation of the next flight

During the second week of the pilot operation in the Dominican Republic, the superARTIS team performed different humanitarian delivery missions together with Wings for Aid and the World Food Programme. The flights took place in an area called 'Bajo Yuna', which suffers from frequent flooding and related 'last mile' delivery problems. These flight tests are one of the founding stones to connect DLR's UAS projects with applications in humanitarian technology. read more

Aeronautics | 28. June 2018 | posted by Johann Dauer

Helicopter UAS superARTIS on a humanitarian mission in the Dominican Republic

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Discussions with local stakeholders such as the Red Cross and identifying possible missions for the simulation

Last weekend, a team from Wings for Aid and DLR travelled to the Dominican Republic (DR), to test Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for humanitarian aid. They planned to deliver disposable boxes carrying 20 kilograms of emergency goods and drop them safely at their destination using DLR’s helicopter UAS, superARTIS. read more

Space | 28. June 2018 | posted by Johannes Weppler

From Stuttgart to the ISS – the arduous journey of a student experiment

Credit: KSat e.V./Sandro Schönhoff
PAPELL experiment team with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (centre)

The 'horizons' mission is very exciting – not just for us, the members of the DLR mission team. It is also a fascinating time for student groups from the universities of Stuttgart, Duisburg-Essen and Frankfurt – all of them winners of the ‘High-flyers’ competition, which was organised by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft; DPG) in 2016. read more

Space | 22. June 2018 | posted by Volker Schmid

The first two weeks of the horizons mission

Credit: ESA/NASA
Sunrise - seen from the ISS, photographed by Alexander Gerst during the horizons mission.

The 'horizons' mission has been underway for almost two weeks. Alexander Gerst arrived safely at the ISS on 8 June 2018. He gave his first press conference from an altitude of 400 kilometres on 12 June and assisted in an extravehicular activity on 14 June. The 42-year-old German ESA astronaut is now working on scientific experiments in the European Columbus laboratory. The DLR 'horizons' Mission Manager, Volker Schmid, looks back on two eventful weeks. read more

Space | 15. June 2018 | posted by Elke Heinemann

Hayabusa2 and MASCOT lander nearing Ryugu

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Hayabusa2, JAXA's asteroid explorer, and the MASCOT lander, developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French space agency (CNES) have been travelling through space since December 2014.

They are finally closing in on their destination asteroid – Ryugu. As of 14 June 2018, the distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is less than 770 kilometres and the closing speed is 2.1 metres per second. read more

Space | 02. February 2018 | posted by Clemens Plank

SOFIA's 'open-heart surgery'

Blick aus der Cavity; im Vordergrund ist das Spiegelsystem
Credit: DLR / Clemens Plank
A rare sight – the view from inside SOFIA's telescope chamber, looking out through the telescope door opening into the Lufthansa Technik hangar

SOFIA's heart is really sensitive, which is why the doors to it are usually only opened when she is on 'Cloud 9'. At altitudes in excess of 12 kilometres, the air is very clean and there is no danger that the mirror inside SOFIA will become dirty. Any maintenance on the mirror – a thorough cleaning or its installation or removal – brings with it a high risk of damage.

At the heart of the joint NASA and DLR airborne observatory, SOFIA, is a 2.7-metre, 800-kilogram primary mirror made of fragile glass – a custom-made reflector for which there is no replacement. This is why it is only ever handled with 'velvet gloves' and treated like the princess from the fairy tale 'The Princess and the Pea'. Should the mirror break, it would be the end of SOFIA.

Yet the telescope doors have been opened on the ground? read more

Space | 19. December 2017 | posted by Clemens Plank

SOFIA, the two-fold stargazer

Credit: DLR / Clemens Plank

I have worked in the Space Science Department at the DLR Space Administration since October 2016. I could not imagine a better job than my own as SOFIA project engineer. I tend to commute between Bonn and California quite regularly as the NASA/DLR airborne observatory has its home base in Palmdale. But for around a month now, I have been in Hamburg with SOFIA.

Like any other aircraft, this one – registered as N747NA and named the Clipper Lindbergh – requires regular maintenance. This is no ordinary aircraft, though, as the Clipper Lindbergh is just one of 45 special variants of the classic Boeing 747 that were ever built: a so-called 747SP (special performance). Fewer than eight of these 'old timers' remain in service today. What is more, the Clipper Lindberg was modified to make space for the SOFIA telescope, which weighs 'just' 17 tons. So we are dealing with quite a few special features all at once. That is why inspections for its next certification are now on the agenda, and they are far more detailed than those for normal airliners or cars. read more