The history of DLR
Ludwig Prandtl by the water channelLudwig Prandtl by the water channel at the Hannover College of Technology in 1904.
Model of the Bodensee airship in the small wind tunnel at the Aerodynamic Research InstituteModel of the Bodensee airship in the small wind tunnel at the Aerodynamic Research Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (AVA), about 1920.
Carl Wieselsberger in the wind tunnelCarl Wieselsberger in the wind tunnel of the Aerodynamic Research Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (AVA) in Göttingen, operating at a speed of 30 m/s, about 1921.
Rocket Test Rig D at the Trauen locationRocket Test Rig D at the Trauen location of the German Research Institute for Aviation (DFL): test run on the upper stage of the Europa rocket, 1966.
The first German research satellite AZUR/GRS AThe first German research satellite AZUR/GRS A in an EMI chamber (electromagnetic interference chamber), 1969.
Helios solar probeHelios solar probe: structural model prior to the vibration test, 1973.
Control centre at the Oberpfaffenhofen siteControl centre at the Oberpfaffenhofen site of the German Test and Research Institute for Aviation and Space Flight (DFVLR) as part of the D1 mission/STS-61-A, 1985.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and its predecessor organisations have a history spanning over 110 years, including one of the world's first institutions dedicated to aviation research. Key research and countless inventions that now shape and improve modern life emerged within DLR and its forerunners, among them fundamental theories of flying and the modern swept wing that enabled today's cruise flight.
At the same time, however, some of DLR's forebearer organisations – like all the German research institutions operating in the 1930s and 40s – were brought under the Nazi process of Gleichschaltung and involved in the Third Reich's war effort. The research produced during this period helped to prepare for and unleash a war of aggression. Forced labourers were deployed in DLR's predecessors during the Second World War. The forerunner to the Institute of Aerospace Medicine was involved in human experiments in concentration camps. Ludwig Prandtl, the founding father of DLR’s earliest precursor, held a senior position in military research under the National Socialist regime.
DLR assists historians and journalists remembering and reflecting on its past. Moreover, it has set the goal of conducting its own research to address its history and present the results to the public.
In recent years, DLR has prepared and contributed to the creation of a large number of publications on the history of its predecessor organisations. A selection of these publications can be found here (link).
A scientific review charting the history of DLR and its predecessor organisations is currently in preparation.
The history of Aviation Research in GermanyGermany's era of modern aviation research begins with Otto Lilienthal in the late 19th century. He conducted his own flight experiments between 1880 and 1896. His epochal work Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst (Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation) was published in 1889.
Counting and counted upon – Before the emergence of the digital age, female 'computers' kept research aliveToday, computers perform most of our calculations. But how did research facilities carry out their calculations when the computer was in its infancy? At that time, human computers were employed to prepare and evaluate measurement data with painstaking attention to detail.
Literature list – scientific and popular scienceList of publications on the history of DLR and its predecessor organisations, popular science articles on the history of DLR and its preceding organisations, and introductory literature on the history of aviation research.
Andreas SchützDLR Spokesperson, Head of Media RelationsGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Media Relations
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