Spotlight on Space Talents presents: TU Darmstadt Space Technology
September 16, 2020 - Guest Authors: Robert Bruns, Wiebke Retagne, Hanjo Schnellbächer, Fabian Burger, Roman Frels (Publisher: Pouya Haschemi)
With our new format Spotlight on Space Talents, we want to open a platform for young and talented groups, students, NGOs, universities and other people from the so-called "space generation". In this edition, we would like to present the student organizationTUDSaT from the Technical University of Darmstadt:
TU Darmstadt Space Technology (TUDSaT) was born in August 2016, as a group of 10 people realized the growing interest in all things space related among students of the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. This intuition has proven to be accurate over the last 4 years, as the organization now has over 120 members from more than 10 different disciplines, all sharing the same interest in space flight. The association is organized into three sections, most noticeably the CubeSat- and the Rocket-team, where all things technical are discussed. The third part is the PR-Team, where the goal is to ignite the passion for space among the general population.
“As resources are redistributed, we will seize this opportunity to get involved in space travel” says 1. Chair of TUDSaT, Robert Bruns. “The stars have never been so close, the enthusiasm for space travel is immense and our students are eager to prove themselves in the disciplines of astronautics.”
Space safety and sustainability are emerging challenges in the space industry, with ESA contributing 400 Million Euro out of their budget towards research. TUDSaT is at the forefront of this development by conducting research of optical identification methods which will help to locate objects in space and track their movement.
Fabian Burger, the CubeSat Project Manager explains: “for this purpose we utilize passive retroreflectors and reflective foils not unlike cyclist use them on their bicycle and vest to broadcast to any observer with a headlight their attitude and movement to simplify collision avoidance.” Besides localization, identification after multi satellite launches is especially difficult. Therefore, the team plans to demonstrate an active optical identification payload, which tackles this challenge. “With our mission, we will prove that space safety can be increased for the benefit of everyone without great cost.”
Although with the previously mentioned payload the mission return is already satisfying, another objective is to contribute to the growing open source community by creating an open source CubeSat-Platform. “By doing so, we give other teams the opportunity to build on existing development without having to start from scratch”, adds Wiebke Retagne, second Chair of TUDSaT. This frees up time for other relevant tasks, like working on the mission.
Besides the development of a CubeSat, TUDSaT started the development of their own sounding rockets. Solid and hybrid rocket engines are common among student groups and a great way to get started with rocketry. “Their professional significance however is minor, and we are striving for a System that can contribute to current scientific questions”, declares Roman Frels, Rocket Project Manager of TUDSaT. “Therefore, we decided to build a liquid fuelled rocket.” Additionally, a liquid fuelled system has the potential to not only break the European Apogee Record for student teams, but also to raise the bar a lot higher for times to come.
Right from the start, it was clear to the team that the engine would be the most challenging part of the rocket, regarding development effort as well as raising necessary funds. The development was started by dividing the system into smaller subsystems e.g. igniter, injector, ignition chamber. Testbenches for the igniter and injector will be implemented soon. Subsequently they will undergo some design iterations. “When deemed adequate the subsystems will be integrated into an engine testbench, which will be used to design the final engine”, explains Roman.
The way Forward
TUDSaT is currently financed via donations. Hanjo Schnellbächer, the Treasurer of TUDSaT discloses the associated issues: “One big current challenge for us is fundraising.We hope to attract more sponsors, as sufficient funding becomes crucial in order to progress through the upcoming stages of development in each project respectively."
At the same time Robert is enthusiastic about the current situation: “We are proud to host so many talented young minds. It is an honour to see how ideas come to life.”
But the team also struggles, admittedly, with everyday obstacles, like collaboration, lack of workspaces and the ever so gruesome exam period. Despite that, the team is iterating fast and continuously, part after part the projects are being pushed further.
“Thanks to our supporters, our Alma Mater and most of all our talented engineering staff, we are on the verge of being able to start building”, complements Wiebke. “But we lack space and resources. As we lack professional workspaces, our work depends on your support.”
Continue the story behind the young Space Talents of TUDSaT on their social media as well as their Website.
HOSTmi offers services of Agnikul to significantly enhance its launch portfolio
August 18, 2020 - Pouya Haschemi
HOSTmi’s goal is to reduce space mission costs with its solutions for optimized Inventory and Requirements Management, Central Administration and Matchmaking between space mission carriers and space payloads!
HOSTmi offers and uses its B2B platform technology to streamline the requirements management and matchmaking process between payloads and diverse categories of payload carriers (such as satellite platforms or launch vehicles). To increase the flexibility of the offerings we are pleased to announce the listing of Agnikul - a flexible smallsat launcher from India with launch capabilities up to 700km. Agnikul offers an innovative approach to launch flexibly from different locations around the world.
Agnikul builds launch vehicles that can take up to 100 kgs to Low Earth Orbits. Agnikul’s mini launch vehicle - Agnibaan - is propelled by a single piece, 3d printed LOX/Kero engines. Agnibaan’s design allows for launch access anywhere, anytime with a completely modular approach to configuring a launch vehicle.
This partnership will continue to disclose the need for digital assistance solutions to aggregate, manage, and administer the diversified offerings and solutions in a targeted manner.
We are pleased to have found in Agnikul another partner who not only shares our vision but also enables us to offer our customers both flexible software solutions and also responsive realization options.
IOD/IOV – Learnings from the past
July 23, 2020 - Shahrokh Khodabakhshi
Currently there are many In-Orbit-Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV) initiatives across the space industry landscape. These initiatives are important and necessary! But it would be careless to neglect activities and projects already carried out in this direction and not to build on them. Therefore, we want to briefly showcase the following 3 activities carried out in 2015/16 by 3 different consortia.
Despite heavy investment programs from the EU, new technologies hardly find a flight program to gain flight heritage especially in GEO orbits. PLUGIN aimed for developing an open standard interface for hosted payloads on board of commercial GEO satellites together with associated procedures and a business model. The goal was to enable fast growing technologies in the European Landscape by creating a multi-platform IOD/IOV Service using Hosted Payload slots on GEO satellites. In order to ease the process of “matching” GEO host opportunities and the hosted payload or IOD/ IOV candidates, the consortium leader AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE SAS maintained a comprehensive and updated data base.
IN-orbit Validation of European Space Technologies – INVEST
The goal of this project led by ISIS - INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS IN SPACE BV was to offer a multi-platform IOD/IOV community to enable a more rapid maturation of European space technologies and components. Since program managers of space missions rarely select unproven technologies and at the same time these technology providers look for flight opportunities to prove their technology, there is a technological valley of death. INVEST addressed this gap. One of the activities was to provide a “Matchmaking” between technologies in need of IOD/IOV and service providers offering (near) flight-ready platforms. For this matchmaking, a database of various options was created to enable a rapid and cost-effective match.
Within the project IODISPlay, the consortium led by GMV AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE SA assessed the European IOD/IOV situation, both in terms of needs (technologies in need of flight heritage) and capabilities (carriers and launchers). The consortium identified over 150 technologies across Europe in need of an IOD/IOV mission. Based on the ESA Technology Tree, the project investigated that the most demand for IOD/IOV were in the domains of “propulsion technologies”, “Space Systems Control”, “Onboard data systems”, and “RF Systems, payloads and Technologies”. To handle the high amount of potential missions and to match them with available carriers, a mission configuration tool called MITO was developed. MITO can intelligently analyze a database of carriers and technologies to intuitively provide a number of IOD/IOV missions. Due to the limited project duration, the consortium further suggested to repeat the exercise of identifying the market need on a regular basis and thus to update a database as it is a powerful tool especially for policy makers and analysis.
All three activities were carried out under the program H2020-EU.188.8.131.52. - Enabling European competitiveness, non-dependence and innovation of the European space sector. Through close cooperation between these different activities within the "Workshop on IOD opportunities and priorities in Europe", partial results of all individual projects were collected and streamlined. A core element of all projects was a database and associated software solutions with "matching functionalities". Taking this result and all other important outcomes of each of these and other IOD related activities, it is obvious that upcoming IOD/IOV related activities and solutions must include innovative and regularly updated software products besides standard interfaces and procedures to automate and scale new concepts.
We also would love to hear more about your learnings and experience when it comes to scalable IOD/IOD solutions. Reach out to us and tell us your story and experience!
May 27, 2020 - The SLOTD4.0 consortium
Modularity, standardization, and flexibility in space technology have increased significantly in recent years. Coupled with novel processes and digital approaches, the possibilities are almost limitless. How about replacing payloads for space missions shortly before launch? Or booking a satellite bus as easy as booking freight capacity in airplanes? This is exactly what the newly formed consortium with RWTH Aachen University (SLA), German Orbital Systems and HOSTmi wants to realize.
The joint project “Structure and lightweight construction optimized standard payload module and satellite bus connection for the transfer of technology demonstrations into space and industry 4.0 compliant processes – SLOTD4.0” is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and administrated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Space Administration.
The main objectives of SLOTD4.0 are the introduction of modular end-to-end processes, the acceleration of development and production, the shortening of delivery times, the simplifying of ordering procedures, and the standardization of interfaces and engineering activities.
Within this project, a 16U CubeSat, consisting of an 8U satellite-bus-block and an 8U payload-block will be developed by RWTH Aachen University and German Orbital Systems. The blocks are equipped with an intelligent Space System Interface (iSSI), heritage of the former iBOSS project, a standardized multifunctional coupling device transferring mechanical loads, electrical power, and data. The patented iSSI interface allows coupling and decoupling individual payload-blocks, developed by RWTH Aachen University, to a standardized satellite bus, developed by the project partner German Orbital Systems. The functional separation of satellite-bus and payload, enabled by the defined standards of the interface, allows an independent AIT of bus and payload. This leads to increased mission and commercial flexibility regarding late loading issues or payload replacement needs.
Industry 4.0 and digitalization
In addition, based on Industry4.0 technologies and processes in combination with innovation strategies, HOSTmi will develop a service architecture with different procedures to map the product life cycle phases of the modular satellite bus from ordering and acquisition to manufacturing and operation. Focus here is on the "Customer Journey", plotting the phases of payload requirements management to AIT. Such an environment supports central administration of all user and mission relevant information, and processes all technical specifications and requirements in an automated, simple and standardized manner.
The primary structure must be lightweight, integration friendly regarding working space, offer predefined mounting points for a wide variety of components, solutions for harness issues and in order to meet current and future economic demands be optimized for large-scale production endeavors. This approach will open up new use cases beyond SLOTD4.0, such as in-orbit interchange of payloads or distributed apertures and sensors which underline the potentials of the technology. In addition, advanced algorithms could automatically determine the compatibility of different payloads with characteristics of hosting satellite buses, or identify missing or incompatible properties for payload customers, and, thereby generating feasibility awareness at an early stage.
SLOTD4.0 is funded by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with grants from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. Funding reference numbers: 50RA2000, 50RA2003, 50RA2004
COVID-19: An opportunity to drastically improve the customer journey
April 30, 2020 - Pouya Haschemi
To sum up the year 2020 so far in one word, will have to be “gloomy”. Trade shows, conferences and various other events have all been cancelled and no further events are likely to take place this year except for smaller business meetings. More than 500 exhibitions have now been cancelled worldwide. But what does this really mean for the space industry and the many face-2-face business talks that are now cancelled?
First of all: do not panic! The problem affects everyone, both supplier and buyer; both sides must now progressively learn to compensate, not only because of the personal meeting restrictions, but also because of the significant increase of home office usage. Searching for products, comparing offers, as well as purchasing items and services has inevitably shifted to the Internet even for essential goods. Your customers have realized that physical contact is not possible at the moment and are looking for adequate alternatives. In addition, your B2B contacts have very likely never been so open-minded about exploring new technologies and digital tools as they are now. This in fact must be the foundation to come out of this crisis even stronger. The current situation forms the basis for not only thinking about increased digitalization strategies and online presence in the overwhelming B2B-oriented space industry, but also for finally putting them into reality. Instead of sticking your head in the sand, it is now time to take decisive actions so that you are constantly two steps ahead. Not just now, but also for the future.
Building the digital bridge
Due to the lack of personal interactions with your customers, the time has finally come to create digital touchpoints for your clients. This gives you the chance to showcase your products by making them accessible throughout the year worldwide instead of exhibiting them at a locally limited fair for just a few days. With a strategically oriented web presence, you become increasingly independent of physical meetings and create a coherent customer journey across all touchpoints.
In order to master this challenge, the following aspects need to be enlightened first: For most marketing experts , the key element of events is the distribution of some form of content, such as information about new products, new business strategies or the chance to build a pioneering role. The objective now is to precisely enable this information via new channels. Digital touchpoints in particular are ideally suited for summarizing content into target group-oriented packages and tailoring them to the needs of said target group. Targeting groups does not necessarily mean addressing customers personally, however it does mean to consider any valuable and beneficial content in line with actual needs.
The spread of the coronavirus will boost the use of digital tools across the globe, as people spend more time at home and communicate less in person. Once customers have become accustomed to a digital process, they will continue to use online services even after the Coronavirus has disappeared. Despite all the difficulties that the pandemic brings with it, it also provides the motivation for decisions that many companies have been putting off for years.
HOSTmi is committed not only to support the space industry in a time of unprecedented crisis, but also to facilitate the next phase. We have always pursued objectives with our online solutions that can help to implement a long-term digital strategy. In a nutshell: this virus could become the biggest driver for digitalization within our industry. It becomes obvious if we look at the mandarin word 危机 (Wéijī) for crisis, where the character 危(wéi) means danger and at the same time 机(jī) means opportunity.
Vote now for HOSTmi!
February 04, 2020 - HOSTmi
We are nominated for this year's connect breakthrough 2020 award.
And you can help us to make it to the next round!
You think that HOSTmi deserves a place in the final in Dresden? Then vote here NOW!
The start of an easy way to access space
October 19, 2019 - Shahrokh Khodabakhshi
The recently agreed collaboration between Deployables-Cubed and HOSTmi marks the start of a new way to find flight opportunities for space payloads. Read more about Deployables-Cubed and the envisioned goals of this collaboration in this article.
In space, the trend goes towards small and standardized satellites, so called CubeSats, allowing economic access to space. These satellites have an edge length of 10cm for a single 1U limiting greatly the missions that the satellite can fulfill. A way around this limitation is the use of deployable structures like appendices, antennas or sails which are unfolded once in orbit allowing new high-performance applications that are currently only possible with larger satellites. To tackle this problem, the Munich based new space company Deployables Cubed develops miniature actuators and CubeSat deployables with the goal to achieve Europe’s non-dependence on these miniature actuators and the cube satellite deployables they enable.
Products: CubeSat Actuators (Pin Puller and Release Nut) & CubeSat Deployables (like booms, antennas, etc.
Roadmap: Qualified actuator by beginning of 2020, first deployables developed by mid 2020
“Deployables-Cubed sees in HOSTmi a partner that will enable us to perform fast and economic in orbit demonstration flights of our developed actuators and deployables” says Thomas Sinn CEO of Deployables-Cubed. “This in orbit demonstrations and verifications are essential to raise the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) to the necessary level to have our products space qualified.”
Breaking up conventional value chains and creating a single value network is one of the core elements HOSTmi is aiming for. The collaboration with Deployables-Cubed lays an important cornerstone for HOSTmi to prove its services and to go through all processes based on real cases. This pilot project is aimed to showcase the advantages of online services inside the space industry, which will increase the user experience within the procurement phase.