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Berlin to go, english edition, 02/2019

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TITLE NEXT STOP: PLANET

TITLE NEXT STOP: PLANET MERCU Berlin is good at outer space – whether it’s research, commercial space travel or innovative networks Interview: Inka Thaysen You might say space research in Berlin got its big break in the fog. Of course, we don’t mean the weather phenomenon, but rather engineer Rudolf Nebel, whose last name means “fog” in German. In the summer of 1930, Nebel succeeded in firing a liquid oxygen and gasoline-fueled rocket motor. Only a few years after that, the first “rocket airfield” in the world opened in Berlin-Tegel, which just happens to be the site of one of Berlin’s major airports today. In reaction to the work of Nebel and his partners, Albert Einstein himself is quoted with having said: “This will form the basis of space travel.” Almost 90 years later, groundbreaking work on the future of space travel is once again being done in and around the city. Berlin to go spoke with Sebastian Scheiding, engineer and managing director of Astro- and Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH, about this exciting field of research. DR. SCHEIDING, WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF SPACE TRAVEL, THEY THINK OF STAR WARS AND STAR TREK. HOW MUCH REALITY IS THERE IN CLASSIC SCI-FI MOVIES LIKE THESE? Scheiding: Star Trek and Star Wars are works of fiction that have entertained people all over the world. Here in Berlin, we work on tangible reality, and by that I mean the reality of science. Still, our fascination for the subject is very similar to the enthusiasm audiences feel when they watch sci-fi movies. This is most likely due to the urge all human beings have to explore new worlds and pull off pioneering achievements. We are all driven to better understand our earth, outer space and so much more. We want to further explore the moon, Mars, Mercury and Saturn, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our work in Berlin continues to set standards in the field, just like Captain Kirk – or perhaps more like Scotty in the engineering room. Photo: © Berlin Partner 14

RY MORE THAN 70 BERLIN COMPANIES AND RESEARCH INSTITUTES WORK IN SPACE TRAVEL. IS THERE A SPECIFIC FOCUS TO THE WORK BEING DONE HERE? Berlin is particularly strong in the field of small satellites or “SmallSats.” Berlin’s Technische Universität plays a truly pioneering role here; not only does it have the oldest chair in space travel in Germany, it will soon also have more than 20 satellites in orbit. Our company is able to make such SmallSats. We’re also an international supplier of components: you’ll find a piece of Astrofein – and thus also of Berlin – everywhere from Tokyo to Hawaii as well as in orbit around Mercury and Saturn. At the moment, we’re very interested in robotics. We’re also looking forward to PTScientists’ Mission to the Moon. It’s generating a lot of buzz among the general public. WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PLAN? PTScientists is a space startup based in Berlin-Marzahn. From there they are planning the first privately financed trip to the moon – with strong sponsors at their side. The aim of this commercially oriented project is to put a spacecraft on the surface of the moon in the vicinity of the Apollo 17 landing site. After landing, two rovers will set out to investigate the old NASA lunar roving vehicle. By the way, Berlin technology was also on board the recent Chinese mission to the dark side of the moon. And that’s not all: there are a number of parts from the German capital on the Rosetta mission’s well-known comet probe Philae; the MERTIS mission created by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is going on a trip to map Mercury’s temperatures; and the telescope project PLATO is gearing up to explore the atmosphere of planets beyond our solar system, also under Berliner leadership. Berlin is an excellent location for work in space travel. 15

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