DLR Creates the Rocket Fuel of the Future

3D printed research combustion chamber (Credit: DLR)
  • Two advanced “green” fuels have been successfully tested to replace hydrazine.
  • State-of-the-art laboratory and analysis techniques in the physical-chemical laboratory form the cornerstone of future fuel technologies.
  • 3D-printed combustion chamber compatible with “green” fuels.

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sustainability and environmental compatibility are also increasingly important standards in space travel. To achieve this, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Lampoldshausen are developing fuels for next-generation space applications. The focus is on application-relevant properties such as improving environmental compatibility, safety, behavior at different temperatures and reducing fuel costs. 

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NASA’s InSight Detects Two Sizable Quakes on Mars

NASA’s InSight lander used a scoop on its robotic arm to begin trickling soil over the cable connecting its seismometer to the spacecraft on March 14, 2021, the 816th Martian day, or sol of the mission. Scientists hope insulating it from the wind will make it easier to detect marsquakes. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The magnitude 3.3 and 3.1 temblors originated in a region called Cerberus Fossae, further supporting the idea that this location is seismically active.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander has detected two strong, clear quakes originating in a location of Mars called Cerberus Fossae – the same place where two strong quakes were seen earlier in the mission. The new quakes have magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1; the previous quakes were magnitude 3.6 and 3.5. InSight has recorded over 500 quakes to date, but because of their clear signals, these are four of the best quake records for probing the interior of the planet.

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DLR Laser Terminal in Space Makes Contact with Japanese Ground Station

The flying laptop satellite of the University of Stuttgart. (Credit: University of Stuttgart)
  • For the first time, a signal from the DLR terminal OSIRISv1 was received on a NICT ground station in Japan.
  • OSIRISv1 was developed by the DLR Institute for Communication and Navigation and launched in 2017 on the “Flying Laptop” satellite in cooperation with the Institute for Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart.
  • Optical communication systems that use laser beams for data transmission make it possible to significantly increase the data rates between satellites and ground stations.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The resolution of cameras and other sensors on earth observation satellites is increasing steadily. This leads to ever-increasing amounts of data that are still transmitted to earth using radio systems today. The data connection between the satellite and the earth limits the capabilities of the systems.  With optical communication systems that use laser beams for data transmission, a significant increase in data rates is possible. Numerous images can be transmitted with high resolution. 

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DLR & NASA Develop Deployable Propulsion System for Satellites

Start of boom de­ploy­ment (Credit: DLR)
  • In a joint project with NASA, DLR successfully tested masts for deployable satellite structures in the aircraft hangar in Braunschweig.
  • The long-term goal of the cooperation is to test the developed expandable structures in space.
  • The first results will be presented at the 16th ECSSMET from March 23-25, 2021.

BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany (DLR PR) — It took a large hangar to unfold the four ultra-lightweight booms, each made of carbon fibre-reinforced composites and 13.5 metres long, arranged in a cross shape. Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) tested the booms twice in the aircraft hangar at the DLR site in Braunschweig. In cooperation with the US space agency NASA, the aim is to develop deployable satellite structures that will make low-cost, small satellites more powerful in the future with deployable, miniaturised structures for power supply, communications and propulsion.

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Comet Catalina Suggests Comets Delivered Carbon to Rocky Planets

Illustration of a comet from the Oort Cloud as it passes through the inner solar system with dust and gas evaporating into its tail. SOFIA’s observations of Comet Catalina reveal that it’s carbon-rich, suggesting that comets delivered carbon to the terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars as they formed in the early solar system. (Credits: NASA/SOFIA/Lynette Cook)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In early 2016, an icy visitor from the edge of our solar system hurtled past Earth. It briefly became visible to stargazers as Comet Catalina before it slingshot past the Sun to disappear forevermore out of the solar system.

Among the many observatories that captured a view of this comet, which appeared near the Big Dipper, was the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, NASA’s telescope on an airplane. Using one of its unique infrared instruments, SOFIA was able to pick out a familiar fingerprint within the dusty glow of the comet’s tail – carbon.

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20 Years of Plasma Research on ISS Advance Understanding of Physics, Crystals

The PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory. (Credit: MPE)
  • The plasma crystal experiments are one of the first and most successful research projects on the ISS.
  • The first long-term tests under weightlessness started on March 3, 2001: They provide insights into physical processes at the atomic level.
  • ISS astronauts are always part of the plasma research team, including Thomas Reiter during his Astrolab mission.
  • From 22-29. The next experiments on board the ISS will run on March 2021.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR) — For 20 years they have been a reliable source of new insights into physics: the plasma crystal experiments on board the International Space Station ISS. Basic knowledge for the textbooks of the future is the main goal of this research. Various applications can be derived from the knowledge gained, in particular in the fields of medicine, environmental protection, space travel as well as semiconductor and microchip technologies. 

By means of technology transfers, plasma research also opens up new fields of application, based for example on the development of miniaturized laboratory systems suitable for space travel. The first ISS crew already had plasma research on their agenda and on March 3, 2001 the starting shot was given for the first long-term tests under weightlessness. The current crew will now carry out the latest series of experiments at the end of March.

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Ariane 6: First Upper Stage Ready for Hot-fire Testing

Ariane 6 second stage (Credit: ArianeGroup)
  • The first complete Ariane 6 upper stage has just left the ArianeGroup site in Bremen, where it was developed and integrated, for hot-fire testing on the German Aerospace Center (DLR) site in Lampoldshausen
  • This delivery represents a major step in the development of the new European Ariane 6 launch vehicle; its inaugural flight is scheduled for the second quarter of 2022

BREMEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — The first complete upper stage of the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle has just left the ArianeGroup plant in Bremen, Germany. The stage is now complete, with its two liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks connected to the new re-ignitable Vinci engine and equipped with all lines, valves, and electronic and hydraulic instrumentation and control systems. It is now fully operational, following final assembly in October 2020 and successfully undergoing all functional testing (hydraulic, electrical, and avionics) at the ArianeGroup site in Bremen. This stage, called the Hot Firing Model (HFM), will now be transported from Bremen to Lampoldshausen in Baden-Württemberg, for hot-fire testing at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) facility.

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Big Research with Small Satellites

Artist’s impression of the SOMP2b satellite. (Credit: TU Dresden/Tino Schmiel)
  • On January 24, 2021, the SOMP2b small satellite was launched into space with a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:00 p.m. Central European Time.
  • A key objective of the mission is to demonstrate that significant research can be done with small satellites.
  • The special thing about SOMP2b is its innovative design: almost all functions of a satellite have been miniaturized and built into each individual side wall.

+++ The SOMP2b satellite launched into space on January 24, 2021 on board a Falcon 9 rocket +++

COLOGNE (DLR PR) — On January 24, 2021, the SOMP2b small satellite is scheduled to launch at 4 p.m. Central European Time (10 a.m. local time) with a Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in Florida (USA). A key objective of the mission is to demonstrate that significant research – both scientific and technological – can be done with small satellites. 

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Pioneering Start: PIXL-1 Small Satellite with the World’s Smallest Laser Terminal in Orbit

CubeSat with laser terminal. (Credit: DLR CC-BY 3.0)
  • The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST, with the OSIRIS4CubeSat / CubeLCT laser terminal on board
  • The aim of the mission is to test optical communication systems for small satellites, to develop them further until they are ready for the market and to provide a reference system for a new communication standard
  • Technology transfer: The development was carried out on behalf of the German industrial partner Tesat-Spacecom (TESAT), who will produce the laser terminal in series

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched into orbit on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST from the US spaceport Cape Canaveral with a Falcon-9 launcher from the US company SpaceX. The smallest laser transmission terminal in the world is on board the satellite: “OSIRIS4CubeSat” enables data transmission up to a hundred times faster than conventional radio links and was developed by scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in close cooperation with the German telecommunications company TESAT based in Backnang near Stuttgart. It provides an important platform for investigating scientific questions. The laser terminal is designed for series production and is sold by TESAT under the name “CubeLCT.” In this way, new value chains are being created in Germany as a business location.

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Exolaunch Delivers 30 Small Satellites into Orbit on SpaceX’s First Dedicated Rideshare Launch

BERLIN (Exolaunch PR) — Exolaunch, the leading rideshare launch and deployment services provider for the NewSpace industry, announced a successful launch of 30 commercial, space agency, and university satellites for its customers from Europe and the U.S. on the first dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. The mission, named “Zeitgeist,” lifted off on January 24 at 15:00 UTC on Falcon 9 “Transporter-1,” completing one of the largest and most diverse rideshare missions for Exolaunch.

Zeitgeist kicked-off the first of several rideshares Exolaunch will manifest on Falcon 9 as part of a multi-launch agreement with SpaceX. On this mission, Exolaunch provided deployment, mission management and integration services to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Dresden Technical University, ICEYE, NanoAvionics and other commercial companies for IoT, Earth observation and scientific applications.

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NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Ends Its Journey on Mars

Illustration of HP3 mole instrument on NASA’s InSight Mars lander. (Credit: DLR)

The heat probe hasn’t been able to gain the friction it needs to dig, but the mission has been granted an extension to carry on with its other science.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The heat probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed on Mars by NASA’s InSight lander has ended its portion of the mission. Since Feb. 28, 2019, the probe, called the “mole,” has been attempting to burrow into the Martian surface to take the planet’s internal temperature, providing details about the interior heat engine that drives the Mars’ evolution and geology. But the soil’s unexpected tendency to clump deprived the spike-like mole of the friction it needs to hammer itself to a sufficient depth.

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Exolaunch Integrates 30 Small Satellites for SpaceX First Dedicated Rideshare Launch

A rendering of rideshare smallsat deployments from Falcon 9 into space. (Credit: Exolaunch)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Exolaunch PR)–Exolaunch, the leading rideshare launch and deployment services provider for the NewSpace industry, begins its launch campaign to integrate 30 small satellites from the U.S. and Europe aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rideshare mission scheduled for no earlier than January 2021. This is the first dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program and the first of several rideshares Exolaunch is manifesting on Falcon 9 as part of a multi-launch agreement the company signed with SpaceX earlier this year.

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NASA and DLR Strength­en Co­op­er­a­tion

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — On 17 December 2020, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) extended their framework agreement on bilateral cooperation for a further ten years.

The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, and Member of the DLR Executive Board and Head of the DLR Space Administration, Walther Pelzer, who met via video conference to mark the occasion.

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