Europe’s Columbus Module Turns 10

External view of Columbus module. (Credit: NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Columbus space laboratory began its journey into space on 7 February 2008 and has now been the scientific heart of European research on the International Space Station (ISS) for ten years. In microgravity, researchers gain unique insights from a wide range of disciplines from astrophysics, through materials research, to psychology and medical treatment options. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) supervised the development and construction of the ISS module on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), is involved with experiments at a research level and runs the operation from its Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.

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Successful First Test of the Ariane 6 Vulcain Engine

  • The Vulcain® 2.1 engine, which will power the main stage of Ariane 6, has completed a successful first test firing
  • The test was carried out on behalf of ArianeGroup by the DLR (German Aerospace Center) at its Lampoldshausen site
  • This is a version of the Ariane 5 Vulcain® 2 engine optimized for Ariane 6

Lampoldshausen, Germany, 23 January 2018 (ArianeGroup PR) — The Vulcain® 2.1 engine, developed by ArianeGroup to power the main stage of the Ariane 6 launcher, for which the maiden flight is scheduled for 2020, has just been successfully tested by the DLR (German Aerospace Center) on the P5 test facility at its site in Lampoldshausen, Germany on behalf of ArianeGroup.

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France & Germany Pursue Reusable Rocket Technology

In addition to the Prometheus reusable rocket engine program, European officials are pursuing a program named Callisto that aims to developing a reusable booster. SpaceNews reports:

The French and German space agencies (CNES and DLR, respectively) have for the past two years collaborated on a scaled-down rocket that would allow Europe to practice different aspects of recovery and reuse. Callisto’s first flight is planned for 2020.

Callisto officials said the goal of the program is not to create a new vehicle in 2020 — the Ariane 6 is scheduled to debut that same year — but to establish a base of knowledge for future launch vehicles that could, maybe, be reusable.

“Prometheus and Callisto are two key elements of our future launcher preparatory roadmap,” Jean-Marc Astorg, head of CNES’s Launch Vehicles Directorate, told SpaceNews. “Prometheus is a new engine to equip Ariane 6 evolutions or brand-new launchers, and Callisto is developed to learn about reusability in Europe, which we have not done before. We are lacking an experience by operation of recovering a vehicle and reflying it. This is exactly what we would like to do with Callisto.”

Around 1 to 2 percent of Ariane 6’s 3.6-billion-euro ($4.3 billion) development budget is spent on Callisto, Astorg said, describing it as a “modest approach.” Callisto is still in a preliminary design phase, he said, with a full decision on the realization of the demonstrator anticipated this June.

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Sierra Nevada Expands DLR Partnership

Dream Chaser berthed at space station. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (September 28, 2017) —  Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, expanding its relationship with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for further collaboration on space initiatives.

The MOU provides a framework for the two organizations to cooperate in space-related technologies and transportation utilizing the Dream Chaser® spacecraft and space habitats.

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DLR to Launch Cosmic Greenhouses into Orbit

Eu:CROPIS satellite (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Space missions are a bit like a marathon with checkpoints – only once the first model of a satellite has been successfully tested will construction commence on the actual flight model.

The Eu:CROPIS satellite developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), which will operate two greenhouses under Martian and lunar conditions, has now reached this milestone – construction of the flight model can now begin. The finish line is already in sight: launched by Space-X, the satellite and its scientific payload will take off for outer space on board the Falcon 9 in the second half of 2017.
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BIROS Demonstrates Autonomous Rendezvous in Space Using Only Image Data

An image of the picosat taken from 67 meters. (Credit: DLR)
An image of the picosat taken from 67 meters. (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have demonstrated in a real space experiment how a satellite can approach a counterpart by fully autonomously, making use of only optical or vision-based navigation.

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Germany Provides Approximately 2 Billion Euros to ESA Space Projects

Dlr_logo1LUCERNE, Switzerland (DLR PR) — The highest decision-making body of the European Space Agency (ESA) met this year on 1 and 2 December at the Culture and Convention Centre (KKL) in Lucerne, Switzerland, to set the financial and programme-based course for European space travel for the coming years. Ministers in charge of space in Europe last came together exactly two years ago on 2 December 2014 in Luxembourg.

The German Federal Government was represented by Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Brigitte Zypries, who is also aerospace coordinator, was supported by Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board and Gerd Gruppe, Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for the Space Administration, which, in close collaboration with the BMWi, prepared the German position for the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level.
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South Pole Greenhouse Grow Vegetables for Space

EDEN ISS greenhouse at the South Pole. (Credit: DLR)
EDEN ISS greenhouse at the South Pole. (Credit: DLR)

The menu for polar explorers in the Antarctic is not usually very exciting. Often, there are only durable goods, especially in the polar winter, when the researchers are cut off from the outside world for months. But by the end of next year, the EDEN ISS greenhouse will supply the German Neumayer III polar station with fresh fruit and vegetables. It will also test how fresh plant-based food could be cultivated on the International Space Station ISS and during future missions to the Moon and Mars. The not quite so everyday Antarctic container has arrived at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Bremen and its conversion into a self-sufficient biotope for salad, herbs, cucumbers and maybe even strawberries. DLR researcher Paul Zabel is already preparing for his extraordinary mission to the End of the World.
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DLR Researchers Set World Record in Free-space Optical Communications

Optical communications setup (Credit: DLR)
Optical communications setup (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have set a new record in data transmission using laser: 1.72 terabits per second across a distance of 10.45 kilometres, which is equivalent to the transmission of 45 DVDs per second. This means that large parts of the still under-served rural areas in Western Europe could be supplied with broadband Internet services.

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NASA to Launch InSight Mission to Mars in 2018

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)
Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars, following final approval this week by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

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Dawn Completes Primary Mission on Asteroid Day

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)
This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On June 30, just in time for the global celebration known as Asteroid Day, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft completes its primary mission. The mission exceeded all expectations originally set for its exploration of protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

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Roller Coaster Ride on a Comet: The Saga of ESA’s Philae

Video Caption: Philae’s landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (#CometLanding) on 12 November 2014 was a historic moment – the first time in the history of space exploration that a spacecraft landed on a comet. Millions of people across the world followed the Rosetta mission via the Internet.

The DLR Video ‘Pieces of the Puzzle – Philae on Comet 67P’ provides an insight into the ‘roller coaster ride’ on the day of the #CometLanding: “We had to make decisions, develop concepts, alter schedules, sleep briefly and return – and then do the whole thing again and again. There was not a moment to breathe.”

In the video, Koen Geurts, Philae’s Technical Manager, looks at the days immediately after the landing and the following seven months of waiting for a renewed sign of life from Philae. The ‘crazy year’ was to continue, as on 14 June 2015, the comet lander once again reported back. However, the connections thus far have been irregular and unstable. And so, all those involved in the Rosetta mission must examine the pieces of the puzzle together to decipher what is happening 266 million kilometres from Earth.

More: http://www.dlr.de/blogs/en/desktopdef…

NASA, DLR Fund Long Duration Astronaut Health Research

Crew members for the current simulation missions stand in front of the NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). HERA 10 “launched” on May 2 for a 30-day mission to the near-Earth asteroid “Geographos.” The crew members are (left to right): Chris Matty of Houston, Texas; Oscar Mathews of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Ron Franco of Lockport, New York; and Casey Stedman of Olympia, Washington. (Credit: NASA) Subject: Crew photo for HERA 10 crew. Photographer: Bill Stafford
Crew members for the current simulation missions stand in front of the NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). HERA 10 “launched” on May 2 for a 30-day mission to the near-Earth asteroid “Geographos.” The crew members are (left to right): Chris Matty of Houston, Texas; Oscar Mathews of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Ron Franco of Lockport, New York; and Casey Stedman of Olympia, Washington. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR — NASA’s Human Research Program and the German Space Agency (DLR) will fund six proposals to investigate possible changes in the behavioral health and performance of astronauts on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals aim to address the impact of the spaceflight environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including cognition, sleep loss and team functioning. This work is helping NASA develop the knowledge and countermeasures necessary to ensure astronauts remain healthy as we venture beyond low-Earth orbit to visit an asteroid and eventually the journey to Mars.

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DLR Expands Cooperation with Japan and South Korea

DLR's Pascale Ehrenfreund and South Korea's Inho Kim signed an agreement deepening space cooperation. (Credit: DLR)
DLR’s Pascale Ehrenfreund and South Korea’s Inho Kim signed an agreement deepening space cooperation. (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — A DLR delegation led by Pascale Ehrenfreund visited South Korea and Japan from 21 to 27 February. The delegation cultivated and expanded the close cooperation with partner organisations. Two important partnership agreements were signed during the visits.

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DLR, Stanford Work on Method for Communicating With Spacecraft During Reentry

The test device, consisting of a heat shield with a transmitter placed behind it, was exposed to a plasma flow heated to several thousand degrees. (Credit: DLR)
The test device, consisting of a heat shield with a transmitter placed behind it, was exposed to a plasma flow heated to several thousand degrees. (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Entering a planetary atmosphere is one of the most critical mission phases for a spacecraft. The enormous amount of heat generated not only places heavy thermal loads on the material of the re-entry vehicle, it also gives rise to an electrically charged plasma that flows around it. This blocks radio signals, with the result that the spacecraft is unable to communicate with its ground stations for several minutes. In a joint project, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are working with colleagues at Stanford University in California to find a solution to this problem.

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