Collecting and Transmitting Data via Satellites to Ensure a Robust Railway Network

Collecting and Transmitting Data via Satellites to Ensure a Robust Railway Network

Spanning some 34,000 kilometres in total, Europe’s largest railway network is operated, maintained, and improved by DB Netz AG. This company is increasingly relying on sensors, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and satellite data to offer passengers even more reliability on their journeys. Smart technology of this kind is making it possible to identify and address potential infrastructure disruptions before they arise. Here, the overarching aim is to make widespread use of digital technology with an eye towards status-oriented diagnosis and even more robust railways. As part of the INNOspace Masters competition, the DB Netz AG Challenge presents awards to innovative solutions that facilitate predictive maintenance and disruption-free railway operations based on satellite services and expertise from the realm of spaceflight. Ideas for the next edition of INNOspace Masters can be submitted until 5 February 2021. Enter now!

Infrastructure data in real time

One key aspect of DB Netz AG’s work involves keeping an eye on the status of its railway network, ideally in real time. Railway tracks that include bridges and tunnels, overhead contact lines, control and safety equipment – all of this requires constant monitoring to ensure that disruptions are prevented and necessary measures are initiated promptly.

One way to meet this challenge is to attach sensors to trains that run on regular schedules. Detecting track damage, for example, requires data that is accurate down to the millimetre. Collecting it, however, is even more complex than it seems at first glance: Trains travel at speeds up to 300 km/h, which leaves very little time to gather this high-precision data. At the same time, the sensors involved are exposed to powerful forces like acceleration, braking force, vibration, and centrifugal force (when passing through curves). They also have to be able to withstand all kinds of weather.

The space industry also places extreme demands on sensors in terms of their precision, robustness, and durability. The INNOspace Masters competition promotes the transfer of such technology and expertise from the realm of spaceflight to the railway sector. One example of its success in this regard is the Silent Running project, which took second place in the INNOspace Masters DLR Challenge in 2018. The metamaterials it has developed to help reduce vibration in launch vehicles can also be used in the automotive, aviation, and railway industries. They also represent an important step forward in sensor optimisation. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of challenges waiting for the right people to take them on.

Fast, secure data transmission

Another fundamental factor in DB Netz AG’s railway operations has to do with the transmission and analysis of sensor data. In order to predict when individual components or systems might fail and plan maintenance and repairs accordingly, this data needs to be available as quickly as possible. Ideally, DB Netz AG wants to have large amounts of information sent to its systems in real time. Due to long transmission times or a lack of radio connectivity, however, data can often only be sent to its central system once a journey is complete. As a result, there are sometimes considerable delays in analysis, which in turn holds up corresponding maintenance activities.

This is another area where DB Netz AG is counting on the huge potential for technology transfer from the space sector. After all, tremendous amounts of data also need to be transmitted as quickly as possible from satellites in orbit to stations on the ground. The following innovations demonstrate how solution approaches from space are being applied here on Earth.

The DLR Space Administration has supported the development of the European Data Relay System (EDRS) with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The EDRS represents the first commercial application of optical satellite communication in space. Through laser communication terminals (LCTs), this information highway makes it possible to transmit large amounts of data in near-real time.

For another example, consider Intelligence on Wheels (IoW), which was founded in 2012 as a spin-off of the German Aerospace Center with support from the ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria. Its innovative collision prevention system for trains (RCAS) utilises highly precise satellite data to determine exactly where trains are on tracks and how fast they are travelling, all in real time.

As part of INNOspace Masters, the DB Netz AG Challenge is continuing its search for innovations from the space industry that can make tomorrow’s railway infrastructure even more robust, efficient, and reliable. This year’s top three entries will each receive an extensive prize package. Ideas can be submitted until 5 February 2021. Enter now!

Space: A Key to Sustainable Infrastructures on Earth

Space: A Key to Sustainable Infrastructures on Earth

Our modern society relies on the stable and unlimited availability of critical infrastructures. From roads, railway networks, and airports to basic water and energy utilities, all these elements are essential to the economy and the quality of life we enjoy. Along with their consistent functionality and security, the sustainability of these infrastructures is thus of tremendous importance – and this is where technologies from space are playing an increasingly decisive role.

The innovation competition INNOspace Masters works with prominent industry partners to identify projects that foster transfers of technology between space and other sectors. In doing so, it seeks to protect critical infrastructures for the long term and thereby ensure that the economy and our society at large continue to be supplied with fundamental goods and services. Ideas for the next edition of INNOspace Masters can be submitted until 5 February 2021. Enter now!

The significance of space technology for infrastructures on Earth

The fields of Earth observation, satellite communication, and navigation are especially important to the availability and sustainability of terrestrial infrastructures.

Data provided by Earth observation satellites, for example, facilitates the type of remote diagnosis that is necessary to monitor the status of such infrastructures from space in a secure and comprehensive manner. Satellites can detect millimetre-level changes in infrastructures and the Earth’s surface itself while also covering wide swathes of terrain, even in remote areas. Thanks in particular to new technologies like AI and machine learning, this monitoring can be improved and automated further to ensure that resource-intensive (and sometimes dangerous) maintenance work is only performed when required. The following success stories demonstrate just how versatile space technologies can be in a wide range of applications here on Earth.

In 2020, the THEIA company took third prize in the INNOspace Masters DB Netz AG Challenge with its Extensive Road Monitoring Early-Warning System (ERMES). This system uses satellite data to provide comprehensive monitoring of slope stability and changes in the ground along roads and railways. Based on high-frequency remote sensing data, it is able to determine how quickly a given deformation is taking place. ERMES thus makes it possible to implement efficient preventive maintenance strategies and optimise measures designed to minimise risk.

The Bavarian company EOMAP, a spin-off of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), has turned high-resolution remote sensing data into a portal for UNESCO’s International Initiative on Water Quality. Thanks to the simple and location-independent access it provides, this online portal also supplies developing countries with information on water quality and promotes the sustainable use of water resources. Meanwhile, the high availability of satellite data and the analysis techniques the company has developed itself enable EOMAP to map the quality of all the world’s inland and coastal waters.

The high-precision time and positioning data leveraged by the global satellite navigation systems constitutes an essential component of self-driving vehicles, automated agriculture, container tracking, and applications related to the Internet of Things (IoT) in which the exact localisation of objects is absolutely critical.

Intelligence on Wheels (IoW) was founded in 2012 as another spin-off of the German Aerospace Center with support from the ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria. Its innovative collision prevention system for trains (RCAS) utilises highly precise satellite data to determine exactly where trains are on tracks and how fast they are travelling, all in real time.

Callwise Ltd., the winner of the INNOspace Masters Airbus Challenge 2019, has come up with an innovative IoT solution for tracking and monitoring shipping containers in real time all around the world. The underlying concept is based on an inventive architecture that combines satellite and mobile network tracking with LoRaWAN tracking and monitoring of individual means of transport. Callwise’s end-to-end system thus enables shipping and logistics companies to follow specific containers in real time while monitoring their status (including in terms of temperature changes, deviations from planned routes, and whether a container has been opened) at every stage of multimodal transport.

Due to their constant availability, satellite communication and Internet services from space are playing an ever-greater role, especially in more remote areas. To provide a complement to such satellites, AlphaLink Engineering GmbH – a finalist in the INNOspace Masters Airbus Challenge 2020 – is developing a solar-powered composite aircraft that combines several individual “planes” by means of mechanical mounts on its wing tips, which gives the aircraft a large wingspan. Capable of operating reliably in the stratosphere without any crew, this stratospheric aerial array can be used to provide low-cost Internet access to remote regions, for example.

When new developments are achieved (in material science, for instance) when creating components for space, they often present added value in other areas of industry, as well. For an example, look no further than ESDA-Axiotherm GmbH – the winner of the OHB Challenge and the overall winner of INNOspace Masters 2019 – which is working on a new type of material that prevents fluctuations in temperature and thereby keeps spacecraft components from becoming too hot or cold. Batteries, including those used in electric vehicles, aviation, and maritime applications, stand to benefit in particular from this technology.

Satellite control centres and other ground segments

Controlling satellites and their functions, receiving and processing satellite data, and creating usable products are all tasks that are carried out by ground segments. Control centres and other stations on the ground need security mechanisms that prevent unauthorised access to control systems, sensitive data, and privileged communication channels.

These are further areas in which INNOspace Masters and the German Aerospace Center are interested in new approaches to optimising processes and ensuring digital sustainability and security in space (in order to guard against cyberattacks, for example). In a total of five challenges, the DLR, Germany’s ESA Business Incubation Centres, Airbus, OHB, and DB Netz AG are inviting entrants to submit their innovative ideas by 5 February 2021. The winners of these challenges will receive tailored prizes and up to EUR 400,000 in funding they can invest in the long-term realisation of their ideas. Enter now!

Cybersecurity in Space and on Earth

Cybersecurity in Space and on Earth

In our modern, data-driven world, space infrastructures are having a growing impact on the economy and society in general. Constant, reliable localisation and navigation; high-resolution images of Earth’s surface; precise weather data; communication and satellite television – these are just a few examples of how satellite infrastructure has found its way into our everyday lives in recent decades. Meanwhile, terrestrial and orbital communication channels are becoming more and more interconnected. As the number of satellites in space increases along with their importance to a functional modern society, so too is the need for appropriate and up-to-date security mechanisms. In addition to the mechanical security of satellite constellations, digital security is a top priority.

Virtual security from space

Satellite infrastructures need to be hardened against not only random disruptions due to things like space weather, outages, or programming errors, but also eavesdropping, jamming, spoofing, hacking, and other types of targeted attacks. This requires an array of different security mechanisms and solutions with the ability to continually adapt to new challenges. In other words, the ongoing development of cybersecurity in satellite systems is a must. Constant improvements in satellite signals and space technologies can make data transfers more secure on Earth, as well.

Thanks to the ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth available across broad sections of our planet, complex but highly secure methods – blockchain, for example – can be used all around the world. Here, satellites serve as a key interface among the individual nodes involved while also providing coverage to more remote areas that otherwise have poor internet connectivity (or none at all). Furthermore, using satellites makes cryptographic techniques highly robust: Data out in space is, after all, better protected against physical attacks and technical failures.

The highly precise time and positioning data provided by Europe’s Galileo satellites can also be used for other purposes, such as in other cryptographic keys or in validating other information. This precision makes it possible to clearly identify those sending and receiving satellite signals, which in turn helps guard against fraud. In the future, the Galileo system is to offer its own mechanisms for authenticating transmitted positioning data; these will also open up numerous possibilities with regard to cybersecurity.

One of the most well-known methods of manipulating GNSS signals is spoofing. This involves overlaying authentic satellite signals with fraudulent signals. Luckily, the Airbus project Spoofer is demonstrating how artificial intelligence and various algorithms can be used to identify spoofers and validate the authenticity of GNSS signals.

One way to make satellite-based data transmissions more secure involves the use of quantum keys and quantum memory. The German research project QuMSeC developed a related approach that can even be applied to untrusted satellites, which means it is also suitable for users who have no satellite infrastructure of their own. For this innovative solution, the team behind QuMSeC was named the winner of the INNOspace Masters DLR Challenge and the overall winner of INNOspace Masters 2019/20. The competition is now supporting its ongoing development with around EUR 400,000 in funding.

Cybersecurity in satellite systems: a complex matter

On the subject of space infrastructure, one distinguishes among the following three areas with relevance to security: ground control stations on Earth, satellites in space, and the communication that takes place between them.

Control centres on the ground need security mechanisms that prevent unauthorised entities from accessing satellite control systems, sensitive data, and privileged communication channels. At the same time, satellites must be protected in terms of not only their components and software, but the manner in which they are controlled and how they communicate with our planet, as well.

INNOspace Masters fosters new approaches to increasing cybersecurity

In today’s society, cybersecurity is more important than ever – and that trend is sure to continue. Both satellite systems themselves and the data they transmit must be adaptable to a constant series of new challenges. Meanwhile, satellite signals continue to become more precise and robust, which is also important to digital security on Earth. This opens the door to many opportunities for new technologies and services to safeguard data both up there and down here. Ideas like these are exactly what the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is looking for through its involvement in INNOspace Masters. In a total of five challenges, the DLR – along with Germany’s ESA Business Incubation Centres, Airbus, OHB, and DB Netz AG – will be encouraging entrants to submit innovative approaches to ensuring secure and sustainable infrastructure in space and on Earth until 5 February 2021. The winners of these challenges will receive tailored prizes and up to EUR 400,000 in funding they can invest in the long-term realisation of their concepts. Discover the winning entries from years past for inspiration, or start your own application straight away!

Achieving Sustainability in and with Satellite Infrastructure

Achieving Sustainability in and with Satellite Infrastructure

Reducing emissions, stopping climate change, and making modern industry and society more sustainable in general have become the primary aims of a wide variety of organisations and government associations around the world. In the European Green Deal, for example, the EU has set its sights on achieving climate neutrality by 2050.[1]

Space infrastructure has a major part to play in the context of sustainability and the preservation of our climate. These days, satellite constellations and the various other elements involved are closely intertwined with many areas of the economy and society at large. The three most important fields in which satellite infrastructures are applied in space are navigation, communication, and Earth observation. In addition to these areas, there are myriad international missions that together form a highly complex infrastructure network in orbit, which in turn makes intelligent, sustainable infrastructure possible back on Earth.

To name just one example, satellites deliver valuable data that is essential in researching, documenting, and combating global climate change. One of the newest satellites to have begun orbiting our planet is Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, which will be collecting measurements on global sea levels with centimetre-level accuracy and has been launched by the European Copernicus programme on 21 November 2020. Along with five other satellites (including POSEIDON-4), Sentinel-6 is meant to help determine how much sea levels are rising around the world with even greater precision and thereby enable predictions of related future developments. In 2024, the French-German satellite MERLIN is scheduled to follow Sentinel-6 into orbit. Thanks to its lidar (light detection and ranging) instrument, this minisatellite will be able to provide crucial data on global methane emissions. Methane is a key contributor to global warming, and although much higher levels have been detected in Earth’s atmosphere in recent years, not enough research has been conducted on the possible causes. Scientists across the globe are hoping that this new mission offers some essential insights.

Meanwhile,  the space industry itself also needs to become more sustainable and improve its resource consumption in order to do its part in the effort to attain the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The building and commissioning of satellites remains a process that is relatively lengthy and resource-intensive. At the same time, the amount of free “space” out there continues to dwindle. This makes smooth functionality and a long useful life very important. However, the growing number of objects present and the decline in available orbital paths are not the only challenges that are becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. Satellite infrastructures are also heavily influenced by the weather conditions in space, the threat of collisions with space debris, and technical disruptions (due to age and wear, for example). And let’s not forget targeted attacks involving jamming, spoofing, or other forms of cyberattacks that seek to impair a satellite’s functions.

When satellites temporarily malfunction or fail entirely due to such attacks, technical outages, or inclement weather, the ramifications include more than just economic losses for the organisations involved. It also puts the security of the object(s) affected and that of other satellites in orbit at risk. In addition, the data lost in the process can hinder further infrastructure and companies on Earth, resulting in more negative consequences for society and the economy.

Ongoing disruptions (including the eventual loss of an entire satellite) present an even greater challenge. If a satellite is no longer usable and needs to be replaced, the resources consumed in building another – and especially in putting the new satellite into orbit – place additional strain on the environment. Meanwhile, non-functional satellites block otherwise usable orbits, as well. Disposing of a satellite by causing it to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere or pushing it into an unused orbit is a complex affair, and not always possible.

This makes it all the more important that new and existing satellites be produced and used with an eye towards increasing safety, efficiency, and longevity. That applies both to technical aspects like materials, manufacturing, and control and to operation and usage at the software and data level.

Visionaries paving the way for sustainable satellite systems

Making spaceflight sustainable and leveraging satellite services to achieve similar advancements on Earth is going to require fresh innovations and solutions. “I think we agree, all of us, that it’s no longer a question if we should act towards a better and more sustainable future, but [that] it’s about how… And this is why we should put a lot of attention to entrepreneurs who are trying to contribute with their solution to a more sustainable society, economy and ecology,” said Dr Heba Aguib at the INNOspace Masters conference in October 2020. There are a variety of ways to attain greater sustainability in space infrastructures, and many of them incorporate seemingly unrelated fields into their novel approaches. More and more visionaries and research teams are working on solutions for future challenges we will face both in orbit and here on Earth. There are plenty of examples that already show how innovative solutions can be integrated into satellite construction and how existing constellations can be operated in a more efficient and sustainable manner.

New missions are increasingly making use of minisatellites (“CubeSats”) that are just 10 centimetres across and designed for highly specialised functions and uses. The German start-up DeployablesCubed, for instance, is combining the advantages of satellites large and small by developing structures that can be transported in highly compact ways and then expanded into their actual forms once they arrive in space. Among other benefits, this will make fewer rocket launches necessary, which will reduce emissions over the long term. For this innovative solution approach, the DeployablesCubed team was named the winner of the INNOspace Masters ESA BIC Challenge 2019.

Satellites that are already in use can also profit from such innovations. In its Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) software, OKAPI:Orbits now offers a solution that is designed to mitigate the increasing risk of collisions and disruptions in orbit. The SST concept took second place in the INNOspace Masters ESA BIC Challenge 2019 and went on to receive further developmental support in the ESA’s business incubation programme in Hesse, Germany. This culminated in OKAPI:Orbits’ first collision prevention product for satellite operators, which it brought to market in October 2020. With its AI-driven software solution, this young German company is making a key contribution to more efficient and sustainable space applications by protecting objects that are already in orbit from potential damage.

Along with innovative approaches that make operations more sustainable in space, the use of satellite services presents a great deal of potential for greener infrastructure solutions on Earth. The early-warning system ERMES, for example, uses satellite data to monitor slope stability and ground subsidence along roads and railways. This makes it possible to optimise maintenance activities and improve infrastructure durability, which in turn helps prevent accidents, delays, and the need for costly repairs. At INNOspace Masters 2019-20, ERMES came in third in the DB Netz AG Challenge.

INNOspace Masters 2020/21 is looking for sustainable infrastructures for space and on Earth

Infrastructures up in space and down on Earth are highly interconnected, and satellite services are fundamental in keeping everyday digital life running smoothly. In light of the growing challenges being posed by climate change, advancements are needed in both realms. They range from space-aided innovations for terrestrial infrastructures to space technologies that consume fewer resources and improvements in satellite security and efficiency. To meet these needs, numerous initiatives have been established, including innovation competitions in which start-ups and other companies (as well as research institutes and universities) are invited to develop and submit new concepts and ideas. INNOspace Masters, which has been promoting and rewarding proposals that foster the transfer of knowledge and technology between the space sector and other industries since 2015, is one of the leading events in this area.

The latest edition (2020/21) is focusing in particular on sustainable infrastructures both in space and on Earth. Held by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), INNOspace Masters also counts a number of prominent players from the business world among its partners. These include Airbus, OHB, and DB Netz AG, as well as the ESA Business Incubation Centres based in Germany. Each of these partners presents its own challenge while offering tailored prizes and cooperative opportunities designed to enable three winners to turn their proposed ideas into reality. Every year, the overall competition presents a total of EUR 1.3 million in cash prizes/funding and other support.

INNOspace Masters welcomes innovations and ideas at any stage of development. Whether entrants wish to submit applied research or a finished product or service, its various partners are sure to offer the right challenge and assistance to the eventual winners. Potential participants from the fields of research and industry are invited to enter INNOspace Masters by 5 February 2021.


International Innovation Competition by DLR Space Administration

International Innovation Competition by DLR Space Administration

The INNOspace Masters 2019/20 rewards clever ideas for tomorrow’s space sector

  • The winners of the INNOspace Masters competition were announced and awarded during an online conference on 14th October 2020.
  • More than 300 companies, start-ups, universities and research institutions in 15 European countries responded to the call.
  • The new 2020/21 round of the competition is being launched with the theme “Innovations for Sustainable Infrastructure – in Space and on Earth”.
  • Areas of specialisation: Space, innovation, technology transfer

Under the theme “New Ideas between Space and Earth”, the Space Administration at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), within the fifth INNOspace Masters competition, once again was looking for new ideas and concepts designed to address current challenges in space and other sectors and offer innovative potential solutions. Participants were able to choose from tive competition categories – called ‘Challenges’ – covering different development and innovation phases along the entire value chain. The ‘DLR Space Administration Challenge’ focused on the research and development phase, while the industrial partners Airbus and OHB sought proposals for existing marketable solutions. DB Netz AG, who joined the competition this year as an additional industrial partner, focused on innovations from the space sector to monitor, inspect and maintain railway infrastructure. The ‘ESA BIC Start-up Challenge’ focused on business models and start-ups.

An innovative quantum memory wins the competition
A total of 316 participants from companies, start-ups, universities and research institutions in 15 European countries submitted their project outlines. “The fifth round of the INNOspace Master has once again shown how great the transfer potential is between space and other sectors when it comes to pioneering innovation projects,” explained Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the Executive Board at DLR Space Administration. From all of the ideas, 15 proposals were selected for the final round of the innovation competition.  Now the winners of the competition have been chosen. “The development of important components for the broad application of quantum-based satellite communication has particularly impressed us this year and offers great potential – including for terrestrial applications,” explained Walther Pelzer, who, together with the partners of the competition, presented the awards on 14th October 2020. Accordingly, the overall winner also comes from this area: A team of scientists from TU Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is working on an innovative quantum memory for secure satellite communication.

Wide variety of ideas at the INNOspace Masters
However, the submitted contributions did not only come from the satellite communications sector. Proposals from almost all fields of the space sector were submitted to the jury, demonstrating the broad diversity and innovative strength of the industry: “The many innovative solutions proposed in the INNOspace Masters offer great added value for the German space sector in two respects. Not only do the many spin-in ideas from other industries provide important impetus for space, but spin-off projects can also be used to exploit and commercialise existing space solutions for applications on Earth,” emphasised Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, who presented the award for the overall winner of the INNOspace Masters.

Coronavirus brings about a digital kick-off for the next competition round
The award ceremony marked the end of the current round of the INNOspace Masters competition. At the same time, the kick-off for the next round took place at the virtual conference: Clever minds from business and science will once again have the opportunity to submit their ideas from 30th October 2020 to 5th February 2021, this time with the theme “Innovations for sustainable infrastructure – in space and on Earth”. The main theme of the conference was the potential offered by space for a sustainable future. This also includes digital infrastructure. How important this is, especially in times of coronavirus, has already become apparent in the current round of the competition. This year, the multi-stage evaluation process, in which the participants presented their ideas to various expert juries, took place purely digitally. Experience has shown that even jury sessions from home with up to 20 participants allow for exciting discussions to select the best ideas. However, the organisers hope to be able to organise in-person events again for the upcoming conference and awards ceremony in summer 2021. Personal interaction and networking are an important factor, especially when it comes to innovative project ideas.

The winning ideas in the INNOspace Masters 2019/20

QuMSeC – Quantum memories for secure communication
A team of scientists from TU Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin were able to claim the overall victory as well as winning the ‘DLR Space Administration Challenge’. The two universities worked together on innovative quantum memories for satellite communication, which are intended to set new standards for secure quantum key exchange, even for untrustworthy satellites. Customers and users without their own satellite infrastructure should therefore also be able to benefit from secure data communication via satellites in the future.

Additive manufacturing method for metallic coatings of CFRP propellant tanks
The winner of the ‘ESA BIC Challenge’, Additive Space GmbH, is developing a thermal spraying process by which metallic coatings can be applied to the inside of the CFRP structure of fuel tanks quickly and cost-effectively. The method enables several layers of metals with different material properties to be applied one after the other with the minimum required layer thickness. Apart from the spraying device, which is mounted on an industrial robot, for example, no further devices adapted to the geometry of the respective fuel tank are required.

Tikal – Remote assessment of remote traffic routes
Only 20% of the world’s road network is paved, making it particularly vulnerable to environmental, weather and vehicle-related damage. As part of the Tikal project, BAREWAYS GmbH, the winner of the ‘Airbus Challenge’, is developing a software system that can determine the current and future road condition by means of pattern recognition. For this purpose, a wide variety of data sources, such as weather forecasts, digital map information, satellite images, and vehicle sensors, are aggregated, calibrated and analysed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). This current road condition information is made available to the vehicle navigation system together with other criteria for route planning and optimisation.

Free-form metal optics for new space applications
SPACEOPTIX GmbH, the winner of the ‘OHB Challenge’, develops and manufactures high-quality opto-mechanical components and systems made from metallic substrates. Compared to alternative materials such as glass or ceramics, these optical mirrors and mirror systems offer significantly reduced manufacturing and assembly costs and, by using free-form optical system designs, an excellent ratio between optical imaging quality, mass and volume. As a Fraunhofer IOF spin-off, the aim of SPACEOPTIX GmbH is the technology transfer of 20 years of applied research in the field of metal optics to industrial standards.

OCELL – Smart analyses of aerial imagery
According to Deutsche Bahn, heavy storms are increasingly causing millions of euros of damage to tracks and systems as well as train failures and delays. OCELL GmbH, the winner of the ‘DB Netz AG Challenge’, specialises in AI-driven analysis of aerial photography and geodata in order to collect vegetation data with the accuracy of individual trees and categorise the data according to risk classes. Data collection is carried out by the company’s own decentralised partner network of professional ultralight aircraft pilots. On the basis of these findings, trees that pose a risk to rail services, for instance, can be cut in a targeted manner as a preventative measure.

The other placings can be found on the website at   

About the INNOspace Masters ideas competition
The INNOspace Masters is organised by DLR Space Administration on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The competition is part of the INNOspace® initiative, which has been promoting innovation and technology transfers between space and non-space industries since 2013. The competition partners are the ESA Business Incubation Centres (BIC) Bavaria & Northern Germany and ESA BIC Hessen & Baden-Württemberg, as well as the industrial partners Airbus, OHB and DB Netz AG. The INNOspace Masters is organised by AZO Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen. Further information available at:

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2019/20

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2019/20

The 15 winners of the innovation competition INNOspace Masters 2019/20 have been determined. A jury of experts selected visionary innovation projects from research institutions, SMEs and startups in fields such as medical technology, materials science and digitalisation. The winners of the five competition challenges will present their projects at the prestigious INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony in Berlin on 14 October 2020. The overall winner of the competition and the first places in each challenge will be announced and awarded at the conference.

Bonn, 07.07.2020 – The INNOspace Masters annually awards prizes to pioneering project ideas and solutions made possible through knowledge and technology transfers between space and other industries. Besides the initiator DLR, the other competition partners Airbus, OHB, DB Netz AG and the German ESA Business Incubation Centres each organise their own challenges with specific prizes. The innovation competition, part of the INNOspace® initiative by the Space Administration at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), awards prizes for space-related transfer projects and promotes their sustainable implementation.

Over the last few weeks, the 117 submitted ideas have been evaluated by more than 40 experts in a multi-stage process and the 15 best projects selected:

Finalists DLR Challenge

  • Dr. Beat – Dr Ulf Kulau, DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH
  • HOSSA – Dr Ing. Christian Reimann, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB
  • QuMSeQ – Prof Janik Wolters, Technische Universität Berlin, and Dr Markus Krutzik, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Finalists ESA BIC Startup Challenge

  • Additive Space – Sascha Larch, Additive Space GmbH
  • RefresherBoxx – Sing-Hong Stefan Chang, Infinity StartUp GmbH
  • Sphira – Levent Valente, Sphira GmbH

Finalists Airbus Challenge

  • Internet from the Sky – Dr Alexander Köthe, Technische Universität Berlin
  • In/Outdoor GNSS Common View Time and Frequency Synchronization – Sergiu Artene, Melior Systems GmbH
  • Tikal – Moritz von Grotthuss, Bareways GmbH

Finalists OHB Challenge

  • Freeform metal optics for New Space applications – Dr Ing. Matthias Beier, Spaceoptix GmbH
  • Mars Torus – Dr Matthew Kelly, Mars Torus
  • Neutron Star Systems – Marcus Collier-Wright, Neutron Start Systems UG

Finalists DB Netz AG Challenge

  • ERMES – Dr Ricardo Cabral, Theia
  • OCELL – David Dohmen, OCELL GmbH
  • PANTOhealth – Dr Farzad Vesali, Pantohealth GbR

INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony on 14th October 2020

 The INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony will be held at the Humboldt Carré in Berlin on 14th October 2020 under the slogan “Space Moves!”. The event will be opened by Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the Executive Board at DLR Space Administration. The focus of this year’s conference is the theme: “Innovations for sustainable infrastructures – what contribution can space make?”. The participants can look forward to keynotes and a panel discussion on this topic with leading actors from politics and business, including by

  • Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy
  • Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the Executive Board at DLR Space Administration
  • Andreas Lindenthal, Head of Business Operations Space Systems, Spacecraft Equipment, Space Systems Germany, Airbus Defence & Space
  • Dr Lutz Bertling, Member of the Executive Board, OHB SE
  • Dr Kristian Weiland, Head of Programme Digital Rail for Germany, CTO, DB Netz AG
  • Matthias Petschke, European Commission Director for the European Union Space Program
  • Dr Ing. Heba Aguib, Chief Executive, RESPOND, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt


Participation in the conference and award ceremony is free of charge. Those wishing to participate are asked to register online in good time as places are limited.

Interview Johannes Schumacher – Finalist OHB Challenge 2019

Interview Johannes Schumacher – Finalist OHB Challenge 2019

In the new space exploration age, moon missions are facing many challenges and communication is one of them. Not all locations on the moon are accessible to communication from Earth. This creates a barrier in communication.

The third winner of the INNOspace Masters OHB challenge 2018/19, Celestial, aims to deploy a small-satellite relay constellation in lunar polar orbit. This constellation will be able to communicate and relay data of lunar missions to a ground station.

Regine Heue (RH), Head of Marketing & Communications at AZO, interviews Johannes Schumacher (JS), Founder & Managing Director of Celestial.

RH: In 2019, you have submitted your idea to the INNOspace Masters. What was your motivation to participate in the competition?

JS: The main motivation was to gain credibility within the space industry. Celestial has big, ambitious goals. Especially being a team of university students, people may question if we are capable of developing the technology for space applications and planning an entire moon mission. Therefore, participating in the INNOspace Masters was a very good validation opportunity for our idea. Since OHB is one of the leading companies in space missions, its challenge was our first choice and we expected an in-depth analysis of the technical and business approach of our idea. Aiming for a top position in the competition, it was also the validation for us of whether or not the idea was actually good. Getting awarded among such high-level competitors has also improved our commitment to the project beyond any doubt. Now we are sure it is not only an idea that we are willing to pursue, we can even get the funding for it. Today, we are committed to fulfilling any work, regardless of the challenges in front of us.

Another motivation was the INNOspace Masters challenge prices. For us, the promised engineering support was more valuable than the prize money, which unfortunately is not enough for the entire mission anyway. Besides, the opportunity to present our idea to investors during the awards ceremony was also very valuable to us.

RH: How did winning the Challenge help develop your idea and what kind of support do/did you receive from OHB?

JS: So far, OHB has paid the prize money. OHB also refunded some of the money needed to attend the Paris Air Show. But, even more importantly, as a result of the related promotion of the winning teams, we were approached by a company that is a potential customer. OHB will support us with engineering know-how in the development of our next prototype. We have also received feedback on our project, as a result of which we are ready to put our first products onto the market by early 2020. This is when we will be incorporated as a company.

RH: What is the current development status of your idea?

JS: During the competition, we were able to develop our first prototype. Today, we are developing the second prototype of our communication system as well as innovative antenna designs. This is our base for entering the market in 2020 – as mentioned before.

We also decided to participate in a space habitat test bed project called IGLUNA 2020.

It is integrating international student projects to build a space habitat demonstrator to sustain life in extreme environments. Student teams from various disciplines and different countries across Europe are developing their demonstrator modules and will integrate them into a test bed in Switzerland in July 2020.

We at Celestial, in collaboration with TU Berlin, are one of the 14 teams selected to participate. Our goal is the development and testing of a communication system for a lunar habitat. The system will include customised antenna designs, manufactured using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques, to optimise overall system performance. Our objective is to integrate this system into the test bed and also provide a communication link to the other projects. By the way, our project is the only team aiming to provide lunar communication infrastructure.

Therefore, we are currently looking for industrial partners and sponsors for this project.

RH: Last but not least, what are your recommendations for interested participants of the INNOspace Masters competition?

JS: Offering different challenges from different companies or organisations is extremely valuable to any participants in the INNOspace Masters innovation competition. If you are interested, try to tailor your idea and concept to one of these challenges. Also make sure that the challenge partner has an obvious interest in your technology or use case.

We recommend really putting some effort in. Even if it is a side project for you, be prepared for any questions that may come up. In connection with this, we encourage any participants to ask for feedback – not only once!

Finally: just go for it. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

Johannes Schumacher
Johannes Schumacher

Berlin, Germany

Great Potential with Open Innovation

INNOspace Masters Inbound Story - Fostering Technology Transfer
INNOspace Masters Inbound Story - Fostering Technology Transfer

Great Potential with Open Innovation

To secure economic success and strengthen their market position, companies make a significant effort to incorporate new technologies and techniques. But the demands on innovation management have changed in recent years. In the classic understanding, in-house R&D departments are the main source of innovation. An opening to the outside to solve challenges or better meet the increased demands has changed this traditional understanding.

Open innovation gives businesses and organisations the ability to access new ideas for new products and services while reducing the risks, costs and time to market that usually come along with entering novel business paths. With open innovation management, companies still manage and assess their innovation process but ideas can come from external as well as internal sources and can enter the innovation process at any stage. This approach ensures the company is as receptive to ideas as possible, at all stages of the innovation process, without losing the possibility of assessing them properly and managing their development. However, the exchange of knowledge and the networking of expertise from open innovation usually do not mean free access to a company’s knowledge and technology. Nevertheless, it can lead to new ideas and approaches for innovative solutions. In 2013, NASA, for example, launched an open call for a complex algorithm for power optimisation for the solar panels on the International Space Station (ISS). Awards such as the NASA ISS-Longeron Challenge have the potential to serve as a huge and very cost-efficient source of solutions for explicit challenges, such as the improved operation of solar arrays.

Open innovation aims to benefit both partners. Small companies, start-ups, universities and entrepreneurs share their knowledge for several reasons: The co-operation, especially with large and well-established companies, considerably increases chances to realise ideas, it facilitates access to new market sectors, and it provides access to potential customers. Visionaries who seek to work with other companies or institutions on fully exploiting the potential of their innovation meet with a number of options. The following formats are commonly used to support the open innovation process:

Common Open Innovation Models

  • Innovation Competitions: Innovation competitions such as the INNOspace Masters or InnoCentive offer the opportunity to solve a company’s specific problem that is already well-identified. Winning solutions are then further developed with the respective company. The INNOspace Masters features challenges by big players such as the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Airbus, OHB and DB Netz AG.
  • Startup – corporate partnerships: Partnerships between startups and corporate businesses are another way to work together to find a solution to an identified problem, especially when an established business identifies emerging markets but doesn’t have the resources, time, or proven capability to take up this opportunity.
  • Startup incubator or accelerator: A startup incubator or accelerator is similar to a partnership, but also involves investing equity in the startup. The INNOspace Masters partners ESA BIC Bavaria and ESA BIC Hesse & Baden-Württemberg offer such an incubation programme.
  • Hackathons: Hackathons are similar to certain innovation challenges, but also go far deeper into the project details and are mostly related to software innovations.
  • Co-creation labs and lead user method: Co-creation labs are places dedicated to innovation, with the resources, mentoring, and knowledge innovators needed to explore challenging questions. This also includes the involvement of the lead users of a company´s product. They often have a strong relationship to the brand or a certain product and are a great source of innovative ideas from outside.

In practice, open innovation can take the form of technology development projects such as the DLR working with SKITH – the 2016 INNOspace Masters overall winner – on a wireless satellite infrastructure, through to innovation competitions such as the INNOspace Masters, or crowdsourcing portals e.g. the space crowdinvesting platform SpaceStarters.

Additionally, open innovation incorporates another great source of potential: technology transfer as an intersectoral transfer of expertise. In general, technology transfer not only covers the technology transfer from academia to industry, but also includes know-how exchange between different industry sectors.

The INNOspace Masters is a means to exploit this cross-industry potential in the context of technology and knowledge transfer from academia, research, students, startups, SMEs, and science. The innovation competition seeks basic research or new business ideas for commercialisation. Such ideas can stem from both sides, either as “spin-ins” (from non-space into a space sector) or “spin-offs” (from space sectors into non-space). They are then further developed with the respective partner DLR, Airbus, OHB or DB Netz AG.

Almost every INNOspace Masters partner provides its own technology transfer platform:

  • OHB Venture Capital by OHB SE supports promising companies and startups that cover the field of space systems, technologies, applications and services with good market opportunities. In addition to the actual venture capital, OHB also supports investments primarily through a targeted know-how transfer and actively helps startups and companies in the area of management and finance.
  • The Airbus BizLab is a global aerospace accelerator where startups and Airbus entrepreneurs speed up the transformation of innovative ideas into valuable businesses. It offers early-stage projects wide-ranging support in the form of a six-month acceleration programme. Startups have access to a large number of Airbus coaches, experts in various domains, and support staff, free hosting, and a Demo Day with Airbus decision makers, venture capitalists, Airbus customers and partners.
  • The DB Mindbox with its DB Startup Express and DB Open Data offers more than just money: it provides in-depth insights and can open markets across its network. Additionally, it opens its data for insights, data-driven services or business models.

In fact, open innovation is not only a substitute for closed innovation, but complementary. The innovation activities of external sources such as universities or other companies should be seen as an add-on to a company’s own innovation processes and also as a great opportunity for innovators. The INNOspace Masters competition is the perfect platform to boost your innovation project by gaining some extra publicity and the chance to cooperate with well-established companies.

Apply now and submit your idea to the INNOspace Masters challenges! Find out more here.

Human Spaceflight for Medical Research and Health Projects

Human Spaceflight for Medical Research and Health Projects

The International Space Station (ISS) is one of the largest international projects of all time, in which Europe is cooperating with the USA, Russia, Japan and Canada. After completion of the 450-tonne ISS, more than 1200 cubic metres of pressurised space are available, in which up to seven crew members have already carried out a large number of scientific experiments in an orbit of around 400 km. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently extended European funding for its operation from 2024 to 2028. The ISS continues to provide research institutions and industrial companies with a unique laboratory for conducting medical research and development projects with the aim of protecting human health both in space and on earth.
Industrial players such as Airbus and OHB as well as national and European research programmes offer pharmaceutical companies, universities and research institutions attractive and efficient access to space research, accelerating the development of new drugs, cures and products in the billion-euro market for pharmaceutical and medical technology. Amongst other topics, the INNOspace Masters innovation competition aims to support new biomedical projects related to space. It especially intends to offer attractive access to space research to companies and research institutions that do not come from space via the partners in the innovation competition. The competition also supports start-ups that want to commercialise technologies and processes from space research or use the laboratory environment of the ISS for their own product development.

Medical research in microgravity on the ISS
The European research module Columbus was installed on the ISS on 11 February 2008. Columbus and other research laboratories of participating nations have supported a wide range of research projects that are helping to gain a better understanding of human health, which are obscured by gravity on Earth. The very low gravity, or microgravity, on the ISS provides ideal conditions for medical research with the aim of providing new insights into the effects of long-term space travel on human health (e.g. ageing process, radiation exposure, eyesight changes). Furthermore, new insights can be gained into widespread biomedical issues on earth, such as diseases like cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer’s. In microgravity, human cells and proteins grow faster and more three-dimensionally than on Earth. Experiments on the ISS give scientists a better insight into protein structure and allow the development of high-quality protein crystals, which optimise pharmaceutical drugs and reduce side effects. The positive effects of microgravity can also be used to grow what are known as 3D DNA-origami crystals, which are used in medicine to elucidate the structure of biomolecules. Elucidating the structure of a biomolecule is an essential step in the development of a suitable drug to combat the illness. However, this process often takes several years on Earth and comes with high costs. Research on the ISS helps to make these development processes faster and more cost-effective. These examples illustrate the significance of the ISS as an important laboratory for biomedical research, where scientists carry out experiments that are impossible or extremely difficult on Earth.

Market potential through technology transfer
Numerous research findings and technologies originally developed for space applications have been transferred to the health sector and are now successfully implemented in medical products. The following examples give an impression of the enormous possibilities of space research for medical research and technology development:

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) developed a small but accurate device to measure nitrogen monoxide in exhaled air. The instrument was tested on the ISS to study and treat possible inflammation in the astronauts’ airways. The Swedish company Aerocrine AB, together with ESA, has refined the device, which now has also proven to be beneficial for the treatment of asthma patients on Earth.
  • Munich-based terraplasma medical GmbH, an alumnus of ESA BIC Bavaria, has recently launched its first product for professional wound care with cold atmospheric plasma. The concept originates from experiments on the ISS carried out in 2001 to study complex plasma crystals in microgravity. Cold plasma very successfully inactivates bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores. As a result, it also contributes to wound healing in infections with multi-resistant pathogens. plasma care® is a portable medical handheld device for wound care using cold atmospheric plasma. Following CE approval in 2019, the device can now be used by medical professionals for the treatment of acute and chronic wounds to support the fight against multi-resistant organisms.
  • ESA BIC Bavaria start-up Kumovis develops 3D printing systems specifically for medtech, enabling the production of patient-adapted implants. The automated bio-printing of human organs is considered a potential growth market for medical technology, which could in future be used to supply to thousands of people worldwide. Research projects in microgravity can significantly accelerate the development process in which cells assemble into complex 3D aggregates, called spheroids. It could be shown that microgravity can be used as a tool for the differentiation of adult stem cells into functional tissues. The establishment of such a technology is to be demonstrated in a space experiment in a collaboration between Airbus and the University of Zurich.

Commercial actors provide access to space experiment
National research programmes and commercial providers support the design and implementation of scientific and industrial experiments on the ISS. This also provides attractive access to space research for companies and research institutions that do not come from space. One of the commercial providers is Airbus, which operates the myBiorack facility on the ISS. This initiative aims to provide cost-effective access to microgravity research and reuse existing hardware to shorten the payload integration schedule. This will allow Airbus customers to have short-term access to the ISS, ideally within one year of signing the contract. Experiments will be sent to the ISS and installed in the myBiorack-compatible facilities by the crew. After its return from the ISS, the experiment is handed back to the customer. Airbus supports its customers throughout the entire period from the conception, planning and implementation of the experiment on the ISS. A further commercial provider, OHB System GmbH, is developing key experimental facilities and infrastructure elements for the ISS and has been responsible for engineering, integration and operational support for plenty experiments of the Columbus research module for more than ten years. In 2019, OHB has been awarded a contract by ESA for the development of three Biolab experiments on board the ISS. The scientific experiments are concerned with wound healing of human skin, the behaviour of lung cells and the repair mechanisms of bacteria in space.

The INNOspace Masters, hosted by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and its partners Airbus, OHB and German ESA Business Incubation Centres are looking for new project proposals for medical research and development projects related to space. Special attention will also be paid to projects supporting the commercialisation of medical technologies and procedures from space research.  Participants from universities, start-ups, research institutions and industry, including those from the non-space sector, can win well suited prizes to realise their project ideas.

Apply now and submit your idea to the INNOspace Masters challenges! Find out more here.

Preparing for Space Innovations of Today

Preparing for Space Innovations of Today

Satellite-based systems in combination with IoT offer new possibilities. Satellite communication, for instance, is able to make data accessible worldwide due to its global connectivity, especially when mobile networks are not available. Global Earth observation data in combination with IoT also provides many opportunities for e.g. infrastructure monitoring on the ground. The same applies to satellite navigation. Due to its precise order and time synchronisation, many applications are conceivable for IoT sensors.

Internet of Things (IoT)
There’s a lot of discussion about the Internet of Things or IoT – and for good reason. By 2020, over 20.4 billion objects will be connected wirelessly to the internet. And it seems there are no limits at all. Many IoT concepts have already become a reality.

Buzzwords such as Smart Homes, from a thinking thermostat to an internet-connected washing machine, or Smart Factories, where a company organises itself with automatic and person-independent processes, or other related terms such as Industry 4.0, Smart Energy, or Smart Health are all connected to IoT. But IoT can do much more: Smart Rail or satellite IoT connectivity – all this is made possible today, partly with analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Smart Rail needs Data
The Smart City’s opportunities revolve around its public transport network – also referred to as Smart Rail. One of the most important features of smart rail is connectivity. A smart train utilises data in a dual way: On one hand, to assist passengers and keep them informed, but at the same time, data is used internally by transport operators such as DB Netz AG to inform predictive maintenance and improve the level of service.

IoT Sensors
No matter what we are talking about, the sensor acts as the most important data supplier – and thus forms the core of the IoT process. In this process, various sensors attached to an object are linked and connected to local and global communication networks and the last step of this process is analysing data on networked computers or in the cloud. Therefore, the demand for intelligent sensors continues to grow steadily. Since 2015, according to a study by the Roland Berger Foundation, the sales volume of intelligent sensors has increased by 17 percent per year. The number of units sold is expected to double to 30 billion by 2020. IoT, automated vehicles, and Industry 4.0 are the main reasons for that.

However, constantly growing amounts of data and new data types generated by networked devices, machines and systems make this very complex. To get value from this data, analytics is needed. IoT analytics ensures that the data is evaluated on the edge, directly at the point of origin, in the cloud, during transmission or at the storage location. This gives real-time insights into operations and machines, so you can quickly make accurate forecasts and take decisions.

IoT Infrastructure Monitoring
With all of the data IoT sensors capture, it can be difficult to discern any real meaning: They must allow users to find the answers to their operational challenges hidden in the trends of their data. Smart monitoring appliances for IoT close the gap by providing the framework to monitor and analyse IoT sensor data, as well as compare it to historical data, for real-time analytics. Enhanced with deep learning and other machine learning capabilities, digital and interactive analytical solutions let users focus on, and keep track of, how the assets they manage are moving and changing, with the capability to automatically detect those changes.

IoT monitoring also closes the gap between devices and business by collecting and analysing diverse IoT data at web scale across connected devices and applications. Performance gaps can be bridged by optimising performance across multiple applications, APIs, networks and protocols.
With IoT monitoring, dynamic systems can be analysed and billions of events and alerts can be processed. The entire infrastructure equipment and monitoring with sensors, IoT and IT is therefore a big topic for DB Netz AG. It’s not just about switch diagnosis, but also about level crossings, tracks or overhead lines, which need to be monitored to support the development of technical systems with a focus on achieving an intelligent, interconnected, durable and disruption-free infrastructure.

A smooth process without interruptions and shutdowns is crucial in the rail sector for a functioning operation. This is especially true for operators such as DB Netz AG, the new partner of the INNOspace Masters – an innovation competition hosted by the DLR Space Administration.

At the current INNOspace Masters competition 2019/20, DB Netz AG is looking for space related ideas in predictive maintenance technologies for monitoring technical equipment (railway tracks, switches, signalling equipment), standalone energy supplies for sensors and signalling equipment, the rapid transmission of large amounts of data across the rail infrastructure, materials that will increase the useful life of technical equipment, and digital models for mapping physical infrastructure.

IoT Communication Channels
Besides, IoT has a wide range of communication channels. From the WLAN network in buildings over the portable radio network (here, in particular, 5G is expected as an important standard for IoT) up to the satellite connection. The big difference with previous commercial satellite deployments is that these new constellations now have access to the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

Although Beecham Research institution uses the annual growth rate of satellite IoT links at 12% per year in a very conservative way, many new satellite IoT applications are becoming increasingly wearable as costs continue to drop.

However, as the coverage of mobile networks continues to grow, the question is: why use a connection via satellite?

  • Coverage – is the primary value proposition for the majority of those opting for satellite connectivity.
  • Reliability – satellite availability can exceed 99.9%, providing a level of service that mobile networks cannot guarantee, especially if the scope extends to out-of-town areas. The reliability of the mobile network is quite good, but certain circumstances may affect mobile service while leaving satellite services unaffected.
  • Long life cycle – satellite networks have a relatively long life cycle. Since all these constellations are expected to be backward compatible, life cycles of over 20 years are not uncommon. This is quite a long time compared to the lifetime of mobile networks, where 2G has already virtually been abolished, 3G is gradually being replaced by 4G, and there are already initial 5G trials.
  • Immediacy – the fact that satellite communications do not require local infrastructure is an important benefit. Other communication options are available for remote areas, but are associated long timescales and high costs for a new infrastructure. Private wireless networks can connect sites but, like cell towers, they require some sort of backhaul facility. Using a satellite terminal can greatly simplify deployment in many cases. Additionally, satellite IoT generally works globally, which means it does not require different product variants to cover all geographic requirements.

Last but not least

  • Proprietary – satellite IoT networks, which are typically offered as proprietary, closed systems and, as a result, have greater reliability and security.

The satellite operators (and manufacturers) Airbus and OHB, likewise a partner in the INNOspace Masters, welcome the opportunity to find external innovators in order to shape the future of commercial space. In its INNOspace Masters challenges, Airbus and OHB are looking for solutions in mobility, communication technologies, 5G connectivity and IoT/M2M, amongst others.

INNOspace Masters Innovations
Space related innovations in IoT open up new possibilities. The widely distributed IoT environments continue to evolve dynamically. They capture vast amounts of valuable operational data that help companies and operators manage the challenges of digitalisation by identifying performance issues and risks early on. The INNOspace Masters – initiated by DLR Space Administration – is on the hunt for these kinds of solutions, as well as for other innovative concepts and solutions that solve current challenges in space or non-space industries by transferring knowledge or technology between space and other sectors.

Space Powers new Technologies and Vice Versa
New technologies are important for the progress of humankind. Space and its ground-breaking developments have always been on the forefront of advancing our lives on Earth and in space. One major reason why space-related technology, products and services make life better on Earth is the technology transfer from space to terrestrial sectors. At the same time, space profits from new technologies originating from non-space sectors.

While investigating how new technologies operate in space, unexpected discoveries are possible – and that makes it even more exciting. But that’s not all: By using simplified physical systems to improve models of physical processes, new industrial techniques and materials can be developed.

Spin-in as well as spin-off ideas – meaning technology transfer from a non-space sector into space and vice versa – profit from the best of both worlds and thus have great potential for outstanding business advantages. The INNOspace Masters competition is the perfect platform to receive research grants and to win prizes, build awareness and boost business ideas related to space. According to the slogan “Space Moves!”, the competition is looking for new ideas and solutions for the next space generation.

Apply now and submit your idea to the INNOspace Masters challenges! Find out more here.