The long-established northern German aircraft companies Focke-Wulf, Hamburger Flugzeugbau and Weser Flugzeugbau created the ‘Northern Development Ring’ (‘Entwicklungsring Nord’), which as ERNO quickly made a name for itself in the international space industry. Today, as the successor company to ERNO, Astrium in Bremen is a world-leading space centre for space transportation, manned spaceflight and space robotics. Astrium and the expertise of its engineers at the Bremen site are crucial to major European space programmes. Projects such as the International Space Station (ISS), the space laboratories Spacelab and Columbus, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the European launcher Ariane and the exploration missions to the Moon and Mars are inextricably linked with the space expertise that exists at Astrium in Bremen.
Spaceflight ‘made in Bremen’ is in demand the world over and stands for 50 years of experience, know-how, advanced technology, innovation, quality, reliability and progress from Astrium. At the celebratory event to mark the company’s 50th anniversary Dr Michael Menking, site director of Astrium in Bremen, welcomed Jochen Homann, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, which is responsible for Germany’s space effort, Jens Böhrnsen, President of the Senate and Mayor of Bremen, Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Professor Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
“Germany is one of the leading space nations and the Astrium site in Bremen has played a major part in this,” said Dr Menking. “Through its special system leadership expertise, exceptional engineering prowess, courageous business decisions, creation of the right conditions by government, a dose of Hanseatic openness and the innovative environment built on industrial enterprise, renowned institutes and excellent universities, this location has become a model for the European space industry. This success has been made possible by highly qualified and motivated employees, reliable suppliers and project partners, and not least by our customers. For 50 years Astrium Bremen has stood for excellent technology and visionary creative achievement. For us this anniversary will be a stimulus and an obligation to ensure that we will continue in future to advance into space for the good of the Earth.”
Astrium conducts study into automatic landing near the Moon’s south pole
At the celebratory event, Astrium unveiled an almost full-size model of a lunar lander vehicle with integrated robotic arm for offloading payloads. In October 2010, Astrium was appointed by ESA to conduct a Moon landing study for the development of a lunar vehicle. The object of the currently ongoing Lunar Lander Phase B1 is to establish the mission concept for automatic landing at the south pole of the Moon. Phase B1 will run for a total of 18 months (until May 2012). The budget initially amounted to €6.5m, primarily funded by Germany, but this figure has now nearly doubled with additional contributions from Canada, Spain and Belgium and an increase in the German contribution. The study will close with definition of the mission concept and a detailed design of the lunar lander. In parallel, the concept for a lunar rover will be examined at German national level, with Astrium playing a key role. The model unveiled today presents the current status of work at Astrium.
The first part of the study has been completed with confirmation of the system concept and conclusion of a feasibility study for landing an automated vehicle near the south pole of the Moon. In the second part of the study that now follows, the provisional design of the lunar lander vehicle will be established and the key technologies worked out for an automatic, soft and precise landing. In addition, hardware components for the lander vehicle frame and the propulsion system as well as navigation sensors and techniques will be tested on simulators able to reproduce an authentic lunar environment. The study will also determine the total cost of a lunar vehicle and a timetable. These programmatic data will provide the basis for a decision on the entire mission by the European space ministers at the next ESA Council Meeting at the end of 2012.
An automatic lunar landing involves a series of technological challenges. To land softly and precisely on the Moon, key technologies are required such as a lightweight lander vehicle frame, an autonomous navigation system and a complex propulsion system. The lander will place a Moon rover and various stationary experiments on the lunar surface to conduct scientific research over a period of about six months.
“The two successful ATV missions prove the skills and experience which Astrium has in automated rendezvous and docking procedures. The concept of the new lunar mission study is based on ATV technology and this expertise will enable us to develop the key technologies without which it would not be possible to land an automated vehicle on the Moon,” stated Dr Menking, who ain addition to his role as site director is also Senior Vice President, Orbital Systems and Exploration at Astrium.
Copyright 2011 Astrium