July 1, 2024

NASA Summer School, GSOC Training Programme & Munich University of Munich - a special opportunity for young scientists


stock.adobe.com / ESA / NASA

  • Two aerospace master's students from the University of Munich have been invited to participate in NASA's well-known summer school to gain international experience in space flight operations.
  • Participation strengthens international networking and exchange between DLR GSOC and NASA by providing students with valuable insights into the practice of space flight operations.
  • The programme offers students expertise and networking with experienced NASA experts.

At the SpaceOps Conference Committee's meeting in Montreal DLR delegates were invited to have "our students" take part in the Goddard Space Flight Centre's Summer School. This is intended to strengthen international exchange and networking between universities and national space centres. The international SpaceOps conference is regarded as the most important exchange forum for space flight operations and several employees of the GSOC Space Operations Centre are part of the organising committee. There is close and good contact with representatives of NASA.

We at GSOC do not have such a comprehensive student programme, as NASA has, but we do run training courses and internships for satellite operations with various universities. So the contacts are established. Two aerospace master's students from the University of Munich (Professor Markus Pietras) were selected to take part in the summer school for the first time.

As part of the Summer School, NASA offers the trainees a wide range of activities. Firstly, they are assigned a mentor in groups. In these groups, they work on various space flight and space science projects, which are presented to all participants at the end of the programme.

In addition, there are various workshops on topics such as application and CV coaching with elevator pitch exercises, meet & greet with experienced NASA VIPs who give them career and personality tips, as well as several discussion and Q&A sessions.

A particularly relevant and familiar component from GSOC's perspective was the "Down to the Wire" exercise last week. A group of seven people simulated various operational situations on the ISS using real scenarios and flight procedures, including dealing with anomalies and malfunctions. This exercise is similar to the training we offer in our student courses and the comparison in the execution was very interesting for the attending DLR colleagues. One interesting aspect, for example, was that individual students were given different documents and tested to see whether they could maintain their position in relation to the other participants or were subject to the pressure to conform. The Challenger accident was cited as a warning example.

While American students have been on summer holidays since the beginning of June, it's still semester here. It helps our students that there is a six-hour time difference and everything takes place in the late afternoon or evening our time. Of course, our students take part via video conference. This works quite well, as about half of the US participants are not in Washington. This means that our students are well recognised and fully integrated.

This programme runs until the begin of August and we are delighted about the opportunity to network and the exciting topics that we can offer the students in this way. From our point of view, this is an important advertisement for us and emphasises DLR's international network. Just as with our own student training programme, we believe it is important to establish contact with young people at an early stage and not when they apply for a job.