The INNOspace Masters 2019/20 Awards Clever Ideas for Tomorrow’s Space Travel

The overall winner of the INNOspace Masters 2020. (Credit: DLR)
  • On October 14, 2020, the winners of the INNOspace Masters competition were honored in an online conference.
  • More than 300 companies, start-ups, universities and research institutions in 15 European countries answered the call.
  • The new 2020/21 competition will start under the motto “Innovations for sustainable infrastructures – in space and on earth”.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Under the motto “New Ideas between Space and Earth”, the space management of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) searched the fifth INNOspace Masters competition for new ideas and concepts that address current challenges in space travel and other industries and offer innovative solutions. Five competition categories – called “Challenges” – from different development and innovation phases in the value chain were available for the participants to choose from. 

The “DLR Space Management Challenge” focused on the research and development phase, while the industrial partners Airbus and OHB were looking for proposals for solutions that were already ready for the market. DB Netz AG, since this year an additional industrial partner of the competition, focused on innovations from the space industry for the monitoring, inspection and maintenance of the rail infrastructure. The “ESA BIC Start-up Challenge”, which was aimed at the start-up

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NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Out of Sight

NASA’s InSight retracted its robotic arm on Oct. 3, 2020, revealing where the spike-like “mole” is trying to burrow into Mars. The copper-colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flow. In the coming months, the arm will scrape and tamp down soil on top of the mole to help it dig. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now that the heat probe is just below the Martian surface, InSight’s arm will scoop some additional soil on top to help it keep digging so it can take Mars’ temperature.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander continues working to get its “mole” – a 16-inch-long (40-centimeter-long) pile driver and heat probe – deep below the surface of Mars. A camera on InSight’s arm recently took images of the now partially filled-in “mole hole,” showing only the device’s science tether protruding from the ground.

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Im­proved Safe­ty in Space – GES­TRA Space Radar Ready to Be­gin Op­er­a­tions

Front of the GESTRA phased antenna (Credit: DLR)
  • After five years of development and construction, the first German space radar with transmitter and receiver units has been installed at Schmidtenhöhe near Koblenz.
  • Close cooperation between the DLR Space Administration, the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR) and the German Space Situational Awareness Centre.
  • GESTRA data will also be used to improve security in low-Earth orbit at the European level.

Activity in space continues to increase. Several thousand satellites, spacecraft and other objects orbit Earth at altitudes of between 300 and 3000 kilometres. In addition to the inactive satellites and upper stages of rockets that are left behind here after missions, there are hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces of debris.

Satellites and other space infrastructure such as the International Space Station (ISS) need to be continuously monitored to avoid collisions. Active objects can engage in evasive manoevres, while inactive space debris such as disfunctional satellite parts, or the remains of rockets, pose a threat.

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Testing a Fiery Reentry

COLOGNE (ESA PR) — What would a satellite look like as it burns up in the atmosphere? Researchers attempted to duplicate this fiery fate for a bulky satellite electronics box using a plasma wind tunnel.

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Brazil Plans Launch of Brazilian Orbital Rocket from Brazilian Soil in 2022

The president of Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) said on Sunday that Brazil plans a launch a domestically-produced orbital rocket within two years, according to a news release on the agency’s website.

“We are working on the development of a more powerful engine, which is the S50, a project carried out in partnership with the national industry in São José dos Campos (SP). It incorporates a number of technological advances. We intend to start testing the engine in 2021 and make it fly by 2022,” Carlos Moura said.

Moura said launching a satellite into orbit on a Brazilian rocket from Brazilian soil is the space agency’s biggest challenge.

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First Tests for Land­ing the Mar­tian Moons eX­plo­ration Rover

Preparations for a drop test. (Credit: DLR)
  • Intensity of the landing impact on Mars’ moon Phobos is being tested with a rover model.
  • The housing of the rover consists of a lightweight construction made of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRP).
  • The landing on Phobos is planned for late 2026 or early 2027 as part of the MMX mission

BREMEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission will have a German-French rover on board when it is launched in 2024. The rover will land on the Martian moon Phobos and explore its surface for approximately three months.

Initial landing tests are currently underway at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Landing and Mobility Test Facility (Lande- und Mobilitätstest Anlage; LAMA) in Bremen. Using a first preliminary development model, the engineers are determining how robust the design of the approximately 25-kilogram rover must be to withstand an impact on the moon’s surface after a free fall of about 40 to 100 metres.

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Video: First Hot Fire Testing of 75kN HyImpulse Hybrid Rocket Motor

Video Caption: At midday of Tuesday 15 September, the first firing of the HyImpulse 75kN hybrid rocket motor was a full success! It was performed at the world class DLR Lampoldshausen testing facility.

This is the biggest hybrid rocket motor ever built and tested in Europe. This marks an important milestone in accomplishing our plan for a suborbital flight in early 2021 and the first flight of the three stage HyImpulse launcher SL1 by the end of 2022.

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How In­tense and Dan­ger­ous is Cos­mic Ra­di­a­tion on the Moon?

Chang’e-4 lu­nar lan­der im­aged by the Yu­tu-2 rover (Credit: CNSA/CLEP/NAOC)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Chang’e-4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the Moon on 3 January 2019, with a German instrument for measuring space radiation on board. Since then, the Lunar Lander Neutron and Dosimetry (LND) instrument has been measuring temporally resolved cosmic radiation for the first time.

Earlier devices could only record the entire ‘mission dose’. In its current issue, the scientific journal  Science Advances reports on the work of the international group of scientists involved with the LND, including researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Their investigations have involved more precise radiation measurements on the Moon.

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IG Report: NASA’s SOFIA Not Meeting Expectations

SOFIA flying observatory (Credit: NASA-Jim Ross)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s flying Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has struggled to meet its scientific expectations due to a lengthy development delay and a series of technical, operational and managerial challenges, according to a new audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

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A Look at Europe’s Reusable Themis Booster Project

Themis rocket in flight. (Credit: CNES)

CNES Program Description

With ArianeWorks, CNES and ArianeGroup have acquired an innovation accelerator that disrupts practices and frees energy. First project: the development of Themis, a prototype of a first stage of a reusable launcher.

Accelerate the pace of innovation and prepare the successor to Ariane 6 by 2030. This is the roadmap for ArianeWorks, a joint team set up by CNES and ArianeGroup in 2019 to embody their vision of the future.

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DLR, German Federal Ministry of Defense Sign Implementation Agreement

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Space-based systems for earth observation, communication and navigation as well as the observation of the near-earth environment and the sun play an indispensable role in almost all areas of state security. 

Therefore, the space management of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) will strengthen their cooperation in the future: On August 14, 2020, both parties signed an implementation agreement for the implementation of administrative tasks in the area of ​​space. 

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New So­lar Cells for Space Tested on Suborbital Flight

The ear­ly-morn­ing launch of the ATEK/MAPHEUS-8, pre­pared for and im­ple­ment­ed by the DLR’s Mo­bile Rock­et Base (MORA­BA) di­vi­sion. (Credit: DLR)

MUNICH, Germany (DLR PR) — Almost all satellites are powered by solar cells – but solar cells are heavy. While conventional high-performance cells reach up to three watts of electricity per gram, perovskite and organic hybrid cells could provide up to 10 times that amount.

A research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has now tested this type of cell in space for the first time.

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DLR Microlauncher Competition: Three Teams are One Round Ahead

  • Jury chaired by Thomas Jarzombek (Member of the German Bundestag), the federal government’s coordinator for aerospace, nominated HyImpulse Technologies GmbH, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG and Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH.
  • A total of 25 million euros are available for the main round of the DLR space management microlauncher competition for the development of commercial launch services into space.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Three teams are with Microlauncher competition of the DLR space management one round further.

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Data Relay Satellite Beams at Light Speed

EDRS antennas undergoing tests. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed has gained its second satellite.

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) was built to accelerate the flow of information from Earth-observation satellites to people on the ground.

The second satellite in the network, EDRS-C, has now passed its user commissioning review and entered into full service.

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InSight Misson Logbook: Mars Mole Work Suspended for Now

The movement of sand grains in the scoop on the end of NASA InSight’s robotic arm suggests that the spacecraft’s self-hammering “mole,” which is in the soil beneath the scoop, had begun tapping the bottom of the scoop while hammering on June 20, 2020. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

DLR Mission Update

In his logbook, Instrument Lead Tilman Spohn who is back in Berlin since April and communicating with JPL via the web, gives us the latest updates regarding the InSight mission and our HP3 instrument – the ‘Mole’ – which will hammer into the Martian surface.

Logbook entry 7 July 2020

On Saturday 20 June 2020 (Sol 557 on Mars), the team completed the ‘Free Mole Test’ announced in my previous blog post. The result was not quite what we had optimistically hoped for, but was also not entirely a surprise. The ‘Mole’ started bouncing in place after making some progress without direct support from the scoop on 13 June (Sol 550).

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