International experts from aerospace agencies, research and industry will gather at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) from 1 to 5 October 2018. The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) has chosen Bremen as its venue this year. IAF represents 320 organisations from six continents and 68 countries. Workshops, tours and technical sessions with talks, round-table discussions and an exhibition will provide numerous opportunities for dialogue. The organiser expects more than 4000 attendees. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will use the congress to showcase a selection of its current aerospace projects in an area measuring 560 square metres.
"Covering all aerospace-related areas and issues at a global and multidisciplinary level, the IAC is above all about current missions and projects, as well as future collaborations," says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "I am delighted that we, as part of Team Germany, will be able to welcome the global aerospace community at the 69th IAC here in Bremen. Team Germany, which organised the congress, spared no effort to present Germany as an aerospace nation."
DLR highlights at the IAC 2018
DLR will be present with a main and a special booth on the Team Germany Boulevard in Hall 5 of the Bremen Exhibition Centre. It will use the combined space to present 33 exhibits and research topics. In addition, DLR will invite representatives from government, science and the business community to share their thoughts at the German Night on Tuesday, 2 October. The aim is to further strengthen national, European and global networks within the field of aerospace research.
"We see the IAC as an annual marketplace and welcome the occasion to share the latest insights and experiences. While we normally tend to discuss individual topics with colleagues throughout the year, the event here in Bremen offers the great chance to discuss projects and plans within an interdisciplinary framework," says Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology in anticipation of the event. "DLR aerospace research is using the IAC in Bremen as an opportunity to present a digital elevation model of the Earth based on radar data for use within the scientific community."
MASCOT: Asteroid landing during the congress week
The main stand will feature a model of the asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout). Its 'real twin', which reached its destination, the asteroid Ryugu, in June of this year on board the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2, will separate from its mothercraft during the congress week – on Wednesday, 3 October 2018 – and will land on the asteroid’s surface. The scientists from DLR, JAXA and CNES expect initial data and findings just one week later.
Bridge between fundamental research and space applications
"The IAC is an excellent platform to bridge the gap between fundamental research and space applications. To me, this is especially important. And we are delighted that the conference is taking place in Germany at the same time as the 'horizons' mission, and that on 3 October – during the congress – Alexander Gerst will become the first German commander of the International Space Station. This is a very special highlight in an already very eventful aerospace year," says Walther Pelzer, DLR Executive Board Member for the Space Administration and thus responsible for the German contributions to the horizons mission and to ESA.
At the DLR stand, the Space Administration will showcase experiments and information about the horizons mission. For instance, it will showcase the 3D fluorescence microscope FLUMIAS, which recently returned from its first deployment on the International Space Station (ISS). FLUMIAS provides the first opportunity to observe processes in living cells in real time under microgravity conditions, and to visualise the changes directly. This makes it possible to acquire completely new insights into human tissue, cell cultures, microorganisms and plants. CIMON, the first mobile astronaut assistant equipped with artificial intelligence on the ISS, will also be presented – alternately at the DLR stand and then the Airbus stand. Alexander Gerst is scheduled to work with CIMON for the first time on the ISS in November.
The Cold Atoms Lab (CAL) is a compact, atomic chip-based system to examine ultra-cold quantum gases, such as Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC). The CAL marks the dawn of a new era in ISS research, as, until now, it has not been possible to conduct highly precise examinations of fundamental questions within physics using quantum objects close to absolute zero temperatures (minus 273.15 degrees Celsius). BECs have a lifespan of up to 20 seconds under weightlessness on the ISS – conditions that no laboratory on Earth can match. In future, for instance, quantum sensors can be used to control the position of satellites, to manage spacing distances during the formation flight of a satellite swarm, and to produce precise measurements of the Earth’s gravitational field.
In addition to highlights from the horizons mission, the DLR Space Administration will present topics from the fields of innovation and new markets – like the wireless satellite SKITH and the smart modular construction system for satellites iBOSS, as well as the national German satellite mission Heinrich Hertz (to be launched in 2021) and the Franco-German climate mission Merlin. The INNOspace expo ALLTäglich! will also be on display in the ÖVB Arena, providing a vivid demonstration of how aerospace already influences our lives today.
Environmental monitoring from space and robotic exploration
With the hyperspectral camera DESIS as an exhibit, the IAC will include a DLR instrument that is designed to make an important contribution to environmental monitoring and hence to climate research. The DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer, DESIS for short, uses 235 spectral channels to ‘gaze’ down at the Earth and detect changes in the ecosystem on its surface. The instrument is set to deliver data in support of scientific, humanitarian and commercial objectives, for instance within the agricultural sector. The exceptionally hot summer of 2018 recently indicated the importance of research into global climate change.
DLR will use its special stand to showcase ARCHES (Autonomous Robotic Networks to Help Modern Societies), one of its research activities for robotic exploration. In this interdisciplinary project, DLR is conducting research in cooperation with its partners in the Helmholtz Association (HGF): the Alfred Wegener Institute, GEOMAR and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The vision is to enable the future exploration of distant planets and the deep oceans of our planet by using cooperative swarms of autonomous robots.
'Involving Everyone' – Public Day on 3 October
The IAC is mainly organised for professionals. But the Public Day on 3 October – from 12:00 to 18:00 – gives interested laypersons the opportunity to view the latest aerospace research as well. After all, the motto of this year's IAC is 'Involving Everyone'. Admission to Public Day is free.
DLR attaches considerable importance to nurturing future professionals. As such, the IAC will include a teachers' workshop by the International Space Education Board (ISEB). This event will be held at the DLR Institute of Space Systems and the DLR_School_Lab in Bremen in cooperation with the partners IAF, ISEB, VSSEC, ESA and ESERO. What is more, the DLR_School_Lab Bremen will visit the congress together with students in the DLR_School_Lab Club, and will organise the first IAC for students 'Teen Spirit for Space' event jointly with the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM). The 35 participants from Years 1 to 11 come from all over Germany.
On site at the DLR Institute of Space Systems
In addition to daily guided tours of the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen for conference visitors and for junior scientists, a special tour will be held for young professionals and students on Thursday, 4 October. The Institute will provide tomorrow’s scientists with fascinating insights into the current research projects. Tour participants will take a look behind the scenes of DLR Bremen and demonstrate their skills during a system analysis.
Already more than 50,000 visitors at the MASCOT exhibition
The 'Contact with an Asteroid: Hayabusa2 and MASCOT' exhibition will remain open in the lower foyer of the Bremen Town Hall until Sunday, 14 October 2018. The DLR institutes and facilities involved in the mission developed the exhibition in collaboration with external partners. It has already attracted more than 50,000 visitors since it opened on 10 July 2018.
Bremen, an important location for aerospace in Germany
After hosting the IAC in 2003, Bremen is once again a suitable venue chosen by the organiser IAF, which is staging the conference for the 69th time. The Hanseatic city is, after all, one of the main hubs of aerospace in Germany and Europe. DLR operates its Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, and many industrial partners are also domiciled in the city.
Nevertheless, space research and aeronautics firms are an important locational factor in areas other than northern Germany as well. Indeed, aerospace is a key driver of technology and innovation for all of Germany and also forms an essential part of the labour market.
As a side event to the IAC, The 9th IAF International Meeting for Members of Parliaments will also take place, focused on the theme 'The Seamless Chain of Innovation – From Space Science to Business'. Parliamentarians from around the world are expected, who are involved in aerospace in their country’s parliament. Among them are Christian Weber, president of the Bremen parliament, and Klaus-Peter Willsch, Chairman of the Aviation and Space Group in the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, who will act as the local and national hosts. On Tuesday, 2 October, the parliamentarians will have the opportunity to visit the local aerospace industry and the DLR site in Bremen.