2. October 2020
DLR at IAC 2020

In­ter­na­tion­al space com­mu­ni­ty meets vir­tu­al­ly for the first time at IAC 2020

Cimon 2 bei Test
Ci­mon 2 dur­ing tests at the IAC
Image 1/11, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Cimon 2 during tests at the IAC

The first mo­bile as­tro­naut as­sis­tant in space, CI­MON, has a sib­ling: CI­MON 2. It is shown here dur­ing tests in the Colum­bus mock-up at the Eu­ro­pean As­tro­naut Cen­tre in Cologne. CI­MON 2 was launched to the In­ter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion on 4 De­cem­ber 2019 on board a SpaceX-19 rock­et from Cape Canaver­al in Flori­da.
Artist im­pres­sion of MER­LIN
Image 2/11, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Artist impression of MERLIN

The French-Ger­man cli­mate satel­lite MER­LIN will mea­sure the con­cen­tra­tion of methane in the Earth's at­mo­sphere with un­prece­dent­ed ac­cu­ra­cy from 2021. MER­LIN is based on the new ‘Myr­i­ade Evo­lu­tions’ satel­lite bus, de­vel­oped by CNES in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the French aerospace in­dus­try. The satel­lite pay­load, an ac­tive LI­DAR (LIght De­tec­tion And Rang­ing) in­stru­ment that can con­duct mea­sure­ments even at night and through thin clouds, is be­ing de­vel­oped and built in Ger­many on be­half of the DLR Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion with funds from the Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry for Eco­nom­ic Af­fairs and En­er­gy. The methane LI­DAR has a laser that can emit light at two dif­fer­ent wave­lengths, and is there­fore ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out ex­treme­ly pre­cise mea­sure­ments of methane con­cen­tra­tions at all lat­i­tudes, re­gard­less of sun­light.
GESTRA receiver
GES­TRA re­ceiv­er
Image 3/11, Credit: FHR

GESTRA receiver

GES­TRA re­ceiv­er with in­te­grat­ed an­ten­na and at­tached radome at the FHR site in Wacht­berg.
GESTRA antenna
GES­TRA an­ten­na
Image 4/11, Credit: FHR

GESTRA antenna

The an­ten­na mount­ing, which can be ro­tat­ed in all di­rec­tions, car­ries the GES­TRA an­ten­na ar­ray with its 256 dig­i­tal­ly con­trolled el­e­ments.
GESTRA-Überwachungs- und Steuerungseinrichtung
GES­TRA-Überwachungs- und Steuerung­sein­rich­tung  
Image 5/11, Credit: Fraunhofer FHR/Uwe Bellhäuser

GESTRA-Überwachungs- und Steuerungseinrichtung  

Sim­u­la­tion der Wel­traumüberwachung und gle­ichzeit­i­gen Bah­n­ver­fol­gung eines Ob­jek­tes im erd­na­hen Or­bit.   
CFD calculation to evaluate the mass flow around the spacecraft during the retro propulsion boost
CFD cal­cu­la­tion to eval­u­ate the mass flow around the space­craft dur­ing the retro propul­sion boost
Image 6/11, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

CFD calculation to evaluate the mass flow around the spacecraft during the retro propulsion boost

CAL­LIS­TO is a reusable demon­stra­tor for a ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing (VTVL) rock­et stage. CAL­LIS­TO is joint­ly de­vel­oped, built and test­ed by DLR, JAXA, and CNES. The land­ing sys­tem will be able to ab­sorb the re­main­ing ki­net­ic en­er­gy, al­low­ing CAL­LIS­TO to per­form a safe and sta­ble land­ing.
ReFEx on its suborbital orbit in space after separation
ReFEx on its sub­or­bital or­bit in space af­ter sep­a­ra­tion
Image 7/11, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

ReFEx on its suborbital orbit in space after separation

The Reusabil­i­ty Flight Ex­per­i­ment (ReFEx) is a tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tor for fu­ture winged, reusable stages. This artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion shows ReFEx in its re-en­try con­fig­u­ra­tion af­ter it has been launched from its car­ri­er rock­et.
World Settlement Footprint Evolution (WSF-Evo) - Settlement growth from 1985-2015 in Shanghai
World Set­tle­ment Foot­print Evo­lu­tion (WSF-Evo) - Set­tle­ment growth from 1985-2015 in Shang­hai
Image 8/11, Credit: ©DLR

World Settlement Footprint Evolution (WSF-Evo) - Settlement growth from 1985-2015 in Shanghai

Cur­rent­ly, the cities in Asia and Africa are grow­ing at a spec­tac­u­lar pace. With­in the space of a few short years they have grown in­to megac­i­ties. How can the op­por­tu­ni­ties ur­ban­i­sa­tion of­fers be used sen­si­bly? How can we re­duce or even elim­i­nate the new ac­com­pa­ny­ing prob­lems of rapid growth? These are the cen­tral so­cial is­sues of the com­ing decades. Be­cause the fu­ture is ur­ban.
Global Urban Footprint - Europe
Glob­al Ur­ban Foot­print - Eu­rope
Image 9/11, Credit: ©DLR

Global Urban Footprint - Europe

The team 'Smart Cities and Spa­tial De­vel­op­ment' of the de­part­ment 'Land Sur­face Dy­nam­ics' at the Ger­man Re­mote Sens­ing Da­ta Cen­ter (DFD) us­es Earth ob­ser­va­tion to pro­vide tar­get­ed da­ta and in­for­ma­tion to sup­port sus­tain­able set­tle­ment de­vel­op­ment and the as­sess­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal and site con­di­tions. The cor­re­spond­ing sys­tem so­lu­tions aim to au­to­mate the ac­qui­si­tion of in­for­ma­tion from ex­ten­sive and het­ero­ge­neous da­ta sets (Big Earth Da­ta). For this pur­pose, meth­ods of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (ma­chine learn­ing) and dis­tribut­ed com­put­ing in com­put­er clus­ters are used (high per­for­mance pro­cess­ing and da­ta an­a­lyt­ics).
MMX rover
Artist im­pres­sion of the MMX rover
Image 10/11, Credit: CNES

Artist impression of the MMX rover

DLR is re­spon­si­ble for the de­vel­op­ment of the rover cas­ing, the robot­ic lo­co­mo­tion sys­tem, as well as a spec­trom­e­ter and a ra­diome­ter. The in­stru­ments will be used to de­ter­mine the com­po­si­tion and con­di­tion of the sur­face.      
Assembly of the preliminary MMX Rover model
As­sem­bly of the pre­lim­i­nary MMX Rover mod­el
Image 11/11, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Assembly of the preliminary MMX Rover model

The pre­lim­i­nary test mod­el of the MMX Rover al­ready has two wheels (back­ground) and is be­ing used to de­tect and ad­dress po­ten­tial struc­tural weak­ness­es. Mea­sur­ing 47.5 cen­time­tres by 55 cen­time­tres by 27.5 cen­time­tres, the rover hous­ing is a lightweight con­struc­tion com­pris­ing pre­cise­ly stiff­ened sand­wich com­po­nents with out­er lay­ers made of car­bon-fi­bre-re­in­forced poly­mers (CFRP) and cores made of alu­mini­um hon­ey­comb.
  • The most important international conference for the global space sector will take place in a fully digital form from 12 to 14 October 2020. It will be accompanied by a virtual exhibition.
  • It is also the first time that the IAC is open to the general public free of charge.
  • As part of the programme, DLR will offer panel discussions with high-profile participants and will be represented with a virtual exhibition stand.
  • Online registration: https://iac2020.vfairs.com/en/registration
  • Focus: Space, international cooperation

Due to this year's unusual circumstances, the international space community will meet in a purely virtual setting for the first time at the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) from 12 to 14 October 2020. Under the motto ‘Connecting @ll Space People’, the most important international conference for the global space sector will be held virtually, while also being open to the general public free of charge for the first time. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will present current and future projects and goals of German spaceflight in a new 'cyberspace' format.

The three-day congress will be accompanied by a virtual exhibition, open around the clock, at which DLR will be represented by a virtual stand. An online expert discussion on 'Science for the Future – Earth Observation Technologies in the Age of Climate Change' will take place on 12 October 2020. At 'IAC 2020 – The Cyberspace Edition', DLR will present the following projects from its Space Research and Technology division and the DLR Space Administration:

CIMON - human-machine interaction in space

CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile companioN) is the world’s first free-flying, autonomous astronaut assistant equipped with artificial intelligence. It was first deployed on board the International Space Station (ISS) during European astronaut Alexander Gerst’s 2018 ‘horizons’ mission. Its updated successor, CIMON-2, also demonstrated its functionality during its interaction with European astronaut Luca Parmitano on the ISS in spring 2020. CIMON is a pioneering project for the use of AI in human spaceflight developed by the DLR Space Administration in cooperation with Airbus and IBM.

MERLIN – the Franco-German climate mission

Merlin is a sorcerer in the Arthurian legend of the Knights of the Round Table and the search for the Holy Grail. Methane is a major greenhouse gas and the Franco-German small satellite MERLIN (MEthane Remote sensing LIdar missioN), a contemporary successor and namesake of the legendary magician, will detect the gas across the globe. From 2024, it will detect and monitor methane in the atmosphere from an altitude of approximately 500 kilometres. Under the leadership of the DLR Space Administration and the French space agency, CENS, one of the aims of the three-year mission is to produce a global map of methane concentrations. MERLIN will also help to identify the regions of the world where methane is introduced into the atmosphere and where it is removed.

GESTRA – unique space radar tracking space debris

The German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar (GESTRA) system is one of the most modern radar systems for detecting objects in space. This unique system can monitor space debris and active space systems in low-Earth orbits around the clock. GESTRA was built by the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Frequency Physics and Radar Technology (FHR) on behalf of the DLR Space Administration with funding from the BMWi. It will soon enter operation from the FHR site near Koblenz. GESTRA will make a significant contribution to space security at national, European and international levels.

Improved Safety in Space: The GESTRA radar system
The German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar (GESTRA) system is one of the most modern radar systems for detecting objects in space. This unique system can monitor space debris and active space systems in low-Earth orbits around the clock. GESTRA was built by the Fraunhofer...

Reusable space transportation systems

Reducing the cost of space transportation, while simultaneously improving the environmental impact of space activities, is crucial for maintaining Europe’s ability to sustainably compete in the global marketplace. But this can only be achieved with a fundamental change in launcher architecture, with reusability as the most important consideration. In particular, the reuse of the first stage of a launcher, which accounts for a significant proportion of the costs, promises large savings – potentially in the double-digit percentage range. DLR is investigating and testing two concepts – Cooperative Action Leading to Launcher Innovation in Stage Toss back Operations (CALLISTO) and Reusability Flight Experiment (ReFEx).

CALLISTO is a reusable demonstrator for a vertical take-off and vertical landing (VTVL) rocket stage. The German-French-Japanese project being conducted by DLR, CNES and JAXA aims to improve the knowledge of VTVL rocket stages and to demonstrate the capabilities and technologies required to develop and market a reusable VTVL rocket stage. The CALLISTO spacecraft consists of a rocket stage powered by liquid oxygen and hydrogen. The propulsion system can be throttled down for a precise and soft landing.

In parallel, DLR is pursuing the ReFEx project to investigate a different approach to reusable launch vehicles and re-entry technologies. Instead of a vertical landing, the project is exploring the possibility of landing a first-stage launcher horizontally using autonomous navigation and flight guidance in every phase of its mission. The demonstration flight is planned for 2022.

Global change – urbanisation

For the last few years, and for the first time in history, more people are living in cities than in the countryside; and the urbanisation trend is continuing. Within a short time, megacities have begun to sprawl, forming extensive urban landscapes and urbanising entire regions. How can the opportunities offered by urbanisation be sensibly exploited? How can the negative side effects of rapid growth be mitigated or even avoided?

Finding answers to these questions is one of the central societal challenges of the coming decades. With the help of Earth observation technologies, DLR provides data for sustainable development. Detailed observations and surveying of settlement areas is of central importance for this. The Global Urban Footprint (GUF) project, for example, aims to map populated areas worldwide with a currently unparalleled spatial resolution of 0.4 arcseconds (approximately 12 metres).

Rover technologies for the Moon and Mars

In its development of rover technologies, DLR is focusing on autonomous, rough-terrain rovers. In the future, they should be able to cover as long distances as possible on their own. In future, rovers such as that of the Japanese Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, which is being developed jointly by DLR, JAXA and CNES and scheduled for launch in 2024, will be able to independently cover long distances. The MMX rover is scheduled to land on the Martian moon Phobos in late 2026 or early 2027. The mobile landing robot is being designed and built under the joint leadership of DLR and CNES and will explore the surface of Phobos for around 100 days. With the MMX mission, JAXA, CNES and DLR continue their long-standing and successful cooperation.

About the IAC

Since 1951, the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) has brought together space stakeholders from all over the world at a single location every year to enable them to engage in intensive dialogue and exchange. Each year, the event attracts more than 6000 participants from space agencies, companies, research institutions, universities, scientific associations, federations, institutes, and museums from all over the world. In 2020, the congress will take place entirely virtually for the first time.

The IAC covers all space-related topics and offers guests the latest information on developments in space science and industry as well as networking opportunities, contacts, and potential partnerships. Each year, the IAC changes the host country and its central theme. The IAC is hosted by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the world's largest space advocacy body.

  • Andreas Schütz
    DLR Spokesper­son, Head of Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-2474
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Elisabeth Mittelbach
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Telephone: +49 228 447-385
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn

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