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Airborne observatory and electronic noses - DLR presents new space developments at ILA
by Staff Writers
Berlin (SPX) Sep 10, 2012

The airborne observatory SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) has been in use since May 2010. A hatch in the fuselage opens during flight, giving the telescope a clear view into space.

From the magnificent Vinci upper stage engine to the small but important MOSFET circuit board for the flight to asteroid 1993 JU3 - the German Aerospace Center will be showcasing new developments in space technology at its stand during the ILA Berlin Air Show 2012 from 11 to 16 September.

The largest exhibit is Vinci, Europe's most powerful and advanced launcher upper stage engine. DLR's Lampoldshausen facility has tested Vinci in more than 60 experiments under space conditions.

For this, the engine is operated on a test stand in a vacuum. The special feature during both testing and in operational service is that Vinci can be ignited multiple times and will be capable of delivering payloads either directly into geostationary transfer orbits or into multiple other orbits.

Vinci is being built by the French company Snecma in collaboration with its European partners. The engine will enter service on the Ariane launcher in 2017.

In January 2013, the E-Nose will be deployed for the first time. The electronic gas sensor will measure the microbial load on the International Space Station. Upon successful completion of a test phase in the Russian segment, it will be possible to use the sensor throughout the Space Station or on future long-duration missions.

Planets and galaxies
Also on display at the DLR stand will be a replica of the MERTIS (MErcury Radiometer and Thermal Infrared Spectrometer) instrument, which will be launched on board the European planetary orbiter component of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2015.

When the spacecraft enters orbit around the planet six years later, scientists hope to gain new insights into its composition and properties. DLR and the Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster developed the instrument together with German industrial partners and researchers from Poland.

The airborne observatory SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) has been in use since May 2010. A hatch in the fuselage opens during flight, giving the telescope a clear view into space.

Flight into space
In 2016, the launch vehicle VLM-1 (Veiculo Lancador de Microsatelites) will carry the SHEFEX III spacecraft into space before re-entering Earth's atmosphere. DLR's MoRaBa Mobile Rocket Base is participating in the development of this small launcher by the Brazilian Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Brasileira; AEB).

The SpaceLiner that DLR is currently investigating will be even faster and accommodate passengers. This ultra-fast glider will travel from Europe to Australia in only 90 minutes. An environment-friendly rocket engine will accelerate the passenger carrier, which then glides at an altitude of about 80 kilometres.

Resistant to space radiation
The smallest item on display is a circuit board fitted with power MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors). In 2014, the board will be launched on board the Japanese Hayabusa II mission to the asteroid 1993 JU3.

The power transistors are qualified for use in space - with its harsh radiation environment. Previously, components of this type had to be procured from the United States; these MOSFETs, which will be available in the near future, offer a European alternative.


Related Links
DLR at Berlin Air Show
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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