International Space University MSS16 Professional visit to DLR and IRS
The class of MSS16 participated enthusiastically in a professional visit to the German Space Agency, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) and the Institute of Space Systems, Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme (IRS) on 1st of March, 2016.
We started off early in the morning and reached DLR’s Lampoldshausen site, which is a test facility for rocket propulsion, at around 9.30 am. As we entered the building, a display of various R&D models that included steam generators, combustion chambers and upper stages that belonged to Ariane and Viking series greeted us.
A welcome speech by Dr. Stark giving a glimpse of DLR facilities and its contributions to the space sector followed successively. We were then taken around the site by a DLR representative, who informed us about the current testing facilities and technologies available and the role of DLR in such processes. These included the test stands for flight acceptance of micro propulsion engines, altitude facilities, upper stage testing for the new Vinci engine and cryogenic testing facilities. A video clip that gave a better insight to the testing process and R&D facilities, proving DLR to be a reliable contributor in space sciences, followed next. We were then taken around the site museum, where the history and development of such propeller models on display was explained. An appetizing lunch was organised at the Cafeteria which concluded our visit to DLR.
We headed off to our next destination, the Institute of Space Systems (IRS), a prime department at the University of Stuttgart. We were greeted by Prof. Stefanos Fasoulas who gave a brief introduction of the different departments at the university. After that, we were split into four teams and taken around by a member of the university to visit the facilities such as the Plasma Wind Tunnels and Electric Propulsion laboratory - the largest lab of such kind in the world, the life support systems lab - which held an experimental algae photo bioreactor, for use during long spaceflights. Here, we also got to taste some spirulina flakes! Right after, we visited the Soyuz simulator facility where some of us got to try docking the Soyuz onto the ISS.
The students did feel like astronauts trying their hands on it! Later, we met some of the IRS students who explained about the upcoming projects and technologies implemented at IRS. We were then taken into the Clean room for the ‘Flying Laptop’ satellite, clad in lab attire. This satellite takes images in three different spectral bands and the data received is compared with the pictures obtained in the LEO. After a brief goodbye with the faculty, we headed back to ISU, content with the insights obtained through the day.
These facilities incorporated some of the finest technologies available and we thoroughly enjoyed the professional visit to the two facilities, which gave us a good practical exposure to the current projects and space based experiments that are being carried out.