13. December 2021
Small satellites from five European research institutions secure a place on the commercial Spectrum launch vehicle

Mi­cro­launch­er com­pe­ti­tion: first pay­load win­ners cho­sen

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Space
Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: The Aerospace Institute at Berlin Institute of Technology
Win­ners of the First Pay­load Con­test for the maid­en flight of the Ger­man Spec­trum mi­cro­launch­er: The Aerospace In­sti­tute at Berlin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy
Image 1/5, Credit: TU Berlin

Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: The Aerospace Institute at Berlin Institute of Technology

Berlin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­oped the small satel­lite mis­sion Cy­BEEsat, a tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tor for a minia­turised transceiv­er for new­ly de­fined fre­quen­cy bands. It will be on board the maid­en flight of the Ger­man mi­cro­launch­er Spec­trum by Is­ar Aerospace Tech­nolo­gies.
Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Win­ners of the First Pay­load Con­test for the maid­en flight of the Ger­man Spec­trum mi­cro­launch­er: The Nor­we­gian Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, Trond­heim
Image 2/5, Credit: NTNU

Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

Stu­dents at the Nor­we­gian Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy (NT­NU) in Trond­heim cre­at­ed the FRAM­Sat-1, a tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tor for a small satel­lite equipped with a new start sen­sor from a Nor­we­gian SME. It now has a place on the maid­en flight of the Ger­man mi­cro­launch­er Spec­trum from Is­ar Aerospace Tech­nolo­gies.
Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: DLR Responsive Space Cluster Compentence Center (RSC³), Trauen
Win­ners of the First Pay­load Con­test for the maid­en flight of the Ger­man Spec­trum mi­cro­launch­er: DLR Re­spon­sive Space Clus­ter Com­pen­tence Cen­ter (RSC³), Trauen
Image 3/5, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: DLR Responsive Space Cluster Compentence Center (RSC³), Trauen

The DLR Re­spon­sive Space Clus­ter Com­pen­tence Cen­ter (RSC³), based at the AeroSpace Park on DLR’s Trauen site in Low­er Sax­ony, will have its MSAE-OT­TERS mis­sion on board the maid­en flight by Spec­trum, a Ger­man mi­cro­launch­er de­vel­oped by Is­ar Aerospace Tech­nolo­gies. The pri­ma­ry aim is to de­vel­op and launch a small satel­lite in the space of just nine months. This re­quires the stan­dard de­vel­op­ment and prepa­ra­tion pro­cess­es to be ac­cel­er­at­ed con­sid­er­ably, which should ben­e­fit satel­lite de­vel­op­ment in fu­ture.
Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: Zentrum für Telematik, Würzburg
Win­ners of the First Pay­load Con­test for the maid­en flight of the Ger­man Spec­trum mi­cro­launch­er: Zen­trum für Telematik, Würzburg
Image 4/5, Credit: Zentrum für Telematik e.V.

Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher: Zentrum für Telematik, Würzburg

ZfT – Zen­trum für Telematik e.V. from Würzburg has de­vel­oped a sci­en­tif­ic study of vol­canic ash clouds and three small satel­lites that fly in for­ma­tion to mea­sure the spa­tial ex­tent of such clouds. These will be on board the first Spec­trum launch­er ve­hi­cle by Is­ar Aerospace Tech­nolo­gies, which is sched­uled to launch in late 2022.
Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher; The University of Maribor, Slovenia
Win­ners of the First Pay­load Con­test for the maid­en flight of the Ger­man Spec­trum mi­cro­launch­er; The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mari­bor, Slove­nia
Image 5/5, Credit: © University of Maribor

Winners of the First Payload Contest for the maiden flight of the German Spectrum microlauncher; The University of Maribor, Slovenia

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mari­bor (Slove­nia) with its TRISAT-S mis­sion, a tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tor for a minia­turised transceiv­er de­signed to en­able en­crypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions with mul­ti­ple ground sta­tions all over the globe.
  • Following its microlauncher competition, the German Space Agency at DLR announced a contest for the payloads on board the microlaunchers.
  • Five research institutions from Germany, Norway and Slovenia entered seven small satellites that won places on the maiden flight of the Spectrum launch vehicle by Munich-based Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH, which won the main round of the microlauncher competition in April 2021.
  • The initiative is aimed at reinforcing the value chain for small satellites, small launch vehicles and services for space applications.
  • Areas of focus: Spaceflight, commercialisation, start-up funding

The satellite market is thriving and satellites themselves are becoming ever smaller and lighter. Around 90 percent of the satellites that will be launched into space over the next decade weigh less than 500 kilograms, which puts them in the 'small satellite' category. They span a wide range of applications, from telecommunication services and monitoring of Earth’s land, air and water masses all the way through to the rapid and cost-effective testing of new technologies in space. Microlaunchers are now able to carry these small satellites to their target orbit.

Against this general backdrop, the German Space Agency at DLR launched its microlauncher competition in 2020, with the specific aim of promoting access to space via commercially developed small launch vehicles. The German Space Agency at DLR is providing a total of 25 million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to develop innovative microlaunchers, while at the same time securing payload capacity on the first two flights for the winners from both main rounds. It will be implemented as part of the German contribution towards the ESA's new commercial space transport service programme (C-STS). Germany signed on to the C-STS programme as a leading player in the effort to initiate commercialisation within the launcher sector in Europe.

Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH – a Munich-based start-up – won the first main round of the microlauncher competition with 'Spectrum', its small launch vehicle, in April 2021. Spectrum is set to make its maiden flight in late 2022.

In autumn 2021, the German Space Agency at DLR then went on to launch another contest to find suitable payloads. Five European research institutions won a free flight on Spectrum for their seven small satellites. They will use the launch to conduct scientific investigations and test new technologies in space.

Overview of the winners from the first Payload competition:

The DLR Responsive Space Cluster Compentence Center (RSC³), based at the AeroSpace Park on DLR's Trauen site in Lower Saxony, with its MSAE-OTTERS mission, where the primary aim is to develop and launch a small satellite in the space of just nine months. This requires standard development and preparation processes to be accelerated considerably, which should benefit satellite development in future.

A technology demonstration is being carried out as part of the CyBEEsat mission (Cybersecurity Berlin Experimental and Educational Satellite) from the Chair of Space Technology at the Berlin Institute of Technology (Technische Universität Berlin). The CubeSat has a miniaturised transceiver for newly defined frequency bands that can be used for short-term missions, as well as novel, radiation-tolerant solar cells from the University of Potsdam.

ZfT – Zentrum für Telematik e.V. from Würzburg with a scientific study of volcanic ash clouds and three small satellites that fly in formation to measure the spatial extent of such phenomena.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim with the FRAMSat-1 mission, a technology demonstration for a small satellite developed by a student, equipped with a new star sensor from a Norwegian SME.

The University of Maribor (Slovenia) with its TRISAT-S mission, a technology demonstrator for a miniaturised transceiver designed to enable encrypted communications with multiple ground stations all over the globe.

Walther Pelzer, DLR Executive Board Member and Head of the German Space Agency at DLR, congratulates all of the winners and wishes them and Isar Aerospace a successful launch with Spectrum and a fruitful mission: "I am delighted that our initiative has prompted an array of space activities and supported the development of transport capacity in space, the development of small satellites for scientific missions and the testing of new technologies." Close collaboration between universities, research institutions, small businesses and start-ups is in line with the German government's space strategy. "We see these contests as a catalyst for the commercialisation of space activities in Germany and Europe as a whole."

Isar Aerospace GmbH will conclude cooperation agreements with the winners of the first Payload Contest over the coming days. "We are delighted to announce the selection of payloads for Spectrum's maiden flight and would like to thank the German Space Agency at DLR and the various institutions for believing in us. It is wonderful to be a part of this forward-looking programme and do our bit to foster collaboration between the public and private sector in European space travel. This collaboration will also help to promote the development of research and technology for space and cultivate the private space ecosystem in Europe," says Isar CEO Daniel Metzler.

There are currently 12 applications in for Spectrum's second planned demonstration flight. The winning entries will be chosen next year. "We will run another payload competition then, as well," says Markus Wagener, Manager of the Small Satellites Programme for the German Space Agency at DLR. “The second round of winners of the microlauncher competition will be chosen in April 2022. We want to offer free rides on the launcher’s first and second flights."

Contact
  • Elisabeth Mittelbach
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Telephone: +49 228 447-385
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Tina Schmitt
    Press con­tact Is­ar Aerospace
    Is­ar Aerospace Tech­nolo­gies GmbH
    Telephone: +49-170-8584834
    Contact
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