August 25, 2015

DLR at MAKS 2015 in Moscow

The International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS 2015 is being held in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, from 25 to 30 August 2015. This is the sixth time that the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is exhibiting at the biennial Russian aerospace exhibition. With an exhibition space of 100 square metres, DLR will be presenting its concepts and technologies for the space and aeronautics of tomorrow. DLR satellite technology is the main focus of the exhibit.

"DLR and Russia have a long-standing and successful partnership in aerospace research," says the Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Pascal Ehrenfreund. "We are delighted to be back at MAKS this year and presenting – for instance – a joystick designed for remote robotic applications. The joystick is being tested by cosmonauts on the International Space Station, and is an example of the successful cooperation with our Russian partners, as we are also actively preparing it for the future."

Knowledge for tomorrow at the Moscow Aviation and Space Salon

KONTUR-2 – remote control using a joystick from outer space

The force-feedback technology of the KONTUR-2 joystick is designed to allow control of robots on the surfaces of celestial bodies from orbit – on the Moon or Mars, for example – to carry out assembly and repair tasks without having to leave a space station. The feedback of the joystick, indicating any collisions or contacts felt by the robot, will give the cosmonauts the feeling of actually being on site – that is, being ‘telepresent’. To test this technology, robots at the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, as well as the Central Research and Development Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics in St Petersburg, will be teleoperated. In August 2015, Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko managed to remotely control the DLR ROKVISS robot from the ISS with KONTUR-2 for the first time. In this way, he was not only able to see what was happening on camera, but he also was able to precisely feel what the robot sensed – 400 kilometres away from Earth’s surface.

Landing on a comet

The goal of the European Rosetta mission is to investigate the formation and evolution of the Solar System. A comet from the Kuiper Belt – which harbours some of the oldest bodies in our planetary system – was chosen for this purpose. The ESA Rosetta spacecraft has been orbiting the 4.5 billion year-old comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since May 2014. The accompanying Philae lander touched down on the celestial body on 12 November 2014. Philae is a joint project of DLR, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the French space agency CNES and the Italian space agency ASI. The 10 instruments on board the Philae lander were used to conduct experiments on the comet’s surface within the first 64 hours. After a period of inactivity as a result of depleted batteries, communications were re-established with the Philae lander.

Tandem-L – Earth observation with unrivalled precision

Tandem-L is an Earth observation satellite mission for monitoring dynamic processes on Earth’s surface. With an unprecedented quality and resolution, the two satellites are designed to cover a 350-kilometre swath in formation flight – regardless of weather and time of day. DLR is presenting the mission concept at the exhibition stand.

Alexander Gerst – back from the ‘Blue Dot’ mission

In 2014, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst, a German, spent almost six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). During his mission ‘Blue Dot – Shaping the Future’, he conducted an extensive scientific programme with 100 experiments ranging across materials physics, human physiology, radiobiology, biology and biotechnology, astrophysics and technology demonstrations. A retrospective film shows highlights of the mission at the exhibition stand.

SpaceLiner – around the world at 20 times the speed of sound

From Europe to Australia in 90 minutes – the DLR SpaceLiner concept intends to enable precisely that. Similar to the Space Shuttle, SpaceLiner is designed to launch vertically, using rocket engines to accelerate for flight in the outer layers of the atmosphere. The nine-engine reusable booster stage separates after the first flight phase, having provided significant thrust to the orbiter, which contains a 50-passenger capacity capsule. All engines are shut down after eight minutes. The orbiter then begins to glide, initially at over 20 times the speed of sound.

The ‘Heinrich Hertz’ mission

The Heinrich Hertz mission is designed to test new satellite communication technologies for their suitability in space. Extreme conditions prevail in space – severe heat and cold, vacuum and microgravity. In-orbit verification minimises the risk of failure for such technologies during future satellite missions. In addition, Heinrich Hertz is carrying some 20 scientific and industrial experiments involving communications, antennas and satellite technology. The project will demonstrate Germany’s capabilities in satellite communications.

EnMAP – Germany’s hyperspectral satellite

Optical Earth observation is of great importance for the German space strategy. A core element is the environmental satellite EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme). Based on imaging spectroscopy, EnMAP will provide analytic characterisation of Earth’s surface. The spectrometers will observe the sunlight reflected from Earth across a wide range of wavelengths from the visible to the near infrared. This will make it possible to accurately study the condition of Earth’s surface, and the changes it is undergoing. The regular provision of high-quality, hyperspectral data makes it possible to answer questions on topical issues regarding the environment, agriculture, land use, water management and geology on a global scale.

Fuel research for aircraft

Together with NASA and the Canadian National Research Council, DLR scientists are dedicating themselves to the question of how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the impact of the aviation industry on climate change. The project ACCESS-II (Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions) in 2014 served to measure the emissions of a biofuel/kerosene mixture at a typical cruising altitude from a distance of 100 metres up to 20 kilometres. In this case, researchers also studied the effect of the fuel mixture on contrail formation. In future, DLR will continue its research into alternative fuels under ECLIF (Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels).

Optimode – control centre for airports

The Optimode traffic management for airports offers better situational awareness to decision makers who are responsible for traffic flow, beyond that of their own responsibility for resources. In the control centre, all relevant planned and real-time data for the transport companies and travellers themselves is converged. The control centre prototype makes it possible to optimally coordinate traffic processes during a flight, door-to-door. All relevant planned and real-time data of the participating companies, as well as the travellers themselves, converge for this purpose in the control centre. From the raw data as well as the passenger trajectories, a standardised characteristics structure is extracted that depicts the performance of the entire system. With the help of forecasts, expected values for these parameters are provided. Through this, parameter-precise decision support is enabled whose solution space may be several participants away.

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Falk Dambowsky

Head of Media Relations, Editor
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
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