Spaceflight Technology

The basis of the institute's spaceflight technology work is knowledge and application of general and higher orbital mechanics. The main research consists of the orbital dynamics of all objects on Earth orbits (space debris), orbit survey and orbit prediction, especially for light satellites and the re-entry of hazardous objects. The research fields of the astronautics cover:

  • Precise calculation of satellite orbits including all involved forces.

  • Trajectory and re-entry prediction of light satellites.

  • Space debris: Determination of object distribution densities for satellites, rocket stages and debris particles in low Earth orbits; calculation of collision probabilities.

Based on the long standing experience the institute received the contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop the MASTER model (Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Reference Model) for analysis of collision risks with space debris and natural meteorites. MASTER allows users from the European astronautics industry to estimate the collision risk. Special data compression methods and an efficient analysis software allows storage of the huge amount of data on a single CD-ROM and fast processing on most of the popular operating systems. Meanwhile, the MASTER model has been completed and is being distributed by the ESA on CD-ROM to European companies and institutes. MASTER is used by the industry to estimate the time- and height-dependent risk for missions and to design shieldings for the space station. Internationally it serves as a basis for the coordination of countermeasures against the ongoing congestion of the near Earth space, which have to be implemented by all space travelling countries. Meanwhile the model is being used worldwide and is compared with the corresponding NASA model.