In order to be able to communicate with spacecraft, antenna systems are needed. The DLR ground station in Weilheim, 60 kilometres south-west of Munich, was established in 1969 (start of construction November 1967) and is one of the links between Earth and its orbiting satellites.
The European Data Relay Satellite System (EDRS), also known as the 'space data highway', is setting a new standard in real-time data transfer. The innovative laser nodes can transport data volumes of up to 1.8 gigabits per second to Earth, with minimal delay. The programme's first communication node, EDRS-A, was launched on 29 January 2016, and is already providing relay services for data transfer from the four Sentinel satellites of the EU Copernicus Earth observation programme.
Earth observation satellites play a key role in weather forecasting, climate research, monitoring of the planet's surface and the detection of forest fires. These tasks require satellites to transmit very large amounts of data to the ground for analysis. Today's radio systems are reaching their limits in this area.
Alexander Gerst returned to Earth safely in the early hours of 20 December 2018 after 197 days in space, 195 of them on board the International Space Station ISS. The Soyuz MS-09 touched down close to Karaganda in the Kazakh steppe right on schedule at 06:02 Central European Time.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have made an agreement to pool their expertise in space operations. The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) in Obepfaffenhofen near Munich have agreed to exploit shared know-how in the fields of mission operations and ground-based infrastructure, jointly developing new concepts, technologies and procedures.
+++ Update: The Eu:CROPIS mission of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was successfully launched to space. Following the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 3 December 2018 at 19:34 CET (10:34 Pacific Standard Time), the DLR satellite was successfully placed in orbit at an altitude of 600 kilometres. First radio contact of the approximately refrigerator-sized satellite to the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen took place about one hour and 15 minutes after the launch. In the next two weeks, GSOC will commission the satellite in space and test all functions. In about seven weeks, the researchers will be able to put the first of two greenhouses into operation. Shortly thereafter, the first tomatoes will be cultivated. +++