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18 January 2024 - Jann Raveling/Siegfried Monser

Bremen Reaches for the Stars – 11 Current Aerospace Projects from the Hanseatic City

Aerospace

Using space ports, spacecraft and space probes to expand the frontiers of the known universe

Reusable rockets, new space stations, shooting down asteroids and our own space port: the future is calling and Bremen's aerospace companies are answering, loud and clear. 11 projects support the drive to conquer space.

Bremen is famously known as the "City of Space", with 140 companies active in the aviation and aerospace industries. Nowhere else in Germany can you find such a wealth of expertise in this field. It's the perfect breeding ground for new ideas. Here is a selection of the aerospace projects that will come to fruition over the coming years and decades, with the help of Bremen's experts:

11 current aerospace projects in Bremen

Selected industrial projects

Ariane rocket
Long-term hot-running tests of Ariane 6 were recently carried out successfully - an important milestone on the way to the first launch. © ESA CNES Arianespace ArianeGroup

1. Ariane 6

Europe's new heavy-cargo rocket will carry payloads into orbit more flexibly than its predecessor, Ariane 5, and at a lower cost. The rocket's upper stage is being developed and built at the ArianeGroup site in Bremen. It will take satellites into space and position them in their predefined orbits. The first launch from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, is planned for mid-2024.

2. SUSIE

The reusability of carrier rockets is a matter of primary concern to the industry. SUSIE, the holistic approach taken by ArianeGroup in Bremen, was presented at the Space Tech Expo international aerospace event in Bremen in November 2023. SUSIE (the Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration) is a rocket that can return to Earth, either with or without a payload, to be reused multiple times.

A rocket is landing
When it comes to reusable rockets, Europe finds itself under pressure - SUSIE is to become a building block for more sustainable and cost-effective space missions. © ArianeGroup
The European Service Module for Orion
The European Service Module for Orion © Nasa

3. Artemis European Service Module

NASA plans to return to the Moon with its Artemis programme. Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen is building the European Service Module (ESM). This is the vehicle that will supply astronauts with power, water and the air they need to breathe. Its initial flight (an unmanned test flight) in 2020 was extremely successful and a second launch, with four astronauts, is planned for 2025.

4. Starlab

By 2030, the International Space Station (ISS) will have reached the end of its working life. Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen is currently working together with Voyager Space, its American partner, to design a successor station, which is to be developed and operated on a commercial basis.

Starlab space station in space
Space research for the global market - Starlab is to become a commercial space station © Starlab Space
Satellite at OHB
Equipment of the Meteosat satellites at OHB © OHB

5. Meteosat Third Generation

Consisting of six satellites, the third generation of the Meteosat satellite system will revolutionise weather forecasting and make it possible to monitor changes to the atmosphere, the Earth's surface and its oceans with even greater accuracy. OHB SE, based in Bremen, is developing and building all the satellite platforms and is responsible for designing and creating new instruments that will significantly improve our understanding of the Earth's climatic system.

6. CO2M

Efficient climate research without space travel is simply unthinkable. For example, where exactly does the CO2 in our atmosphere come from? CO2M, the European Earth monitoring mission, aims to provide the answers. In Bremen, the company OHB SE is leading an international industrial consortium which is working flat-out to build the satellites needed for this mission before 2025. For the very first time, CO2M will make it possible to identify anthropogenic CO2 emissions (caused by human activity) as distinct from those produced naturally and then trace them back to their source.

Climate research satellite in space
CO2M stands for Copernicus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Monitoring © OHB
Satellite in  a hall
Can asteroids on course for Earth be intercepted? This is what the double mission DART / HERA is investigating © OHB

7. HERA

HERA, the European space probe, which has been developed and is being built by OHB in Bremen, is tasked with investigating the Didymos/Dimorphos binary asteroid system. The danger of an asteroid colliding with the Earth is real. As part of the HERA mission, ESA and NASA want to discover how asteroids can be deflected from their path, to protect the Earth. HERA is the follow-up mission to NASA's DART probe. In 2022, DART impacted the Dimorphos asteroid at around 23,000 km/h to change its orbit. HERA will investigate the effects of this impact. Its launch is planned for 2024.

8. GOSA

The German Offshore Spaceport Alliance (GOSA) is a joint venture involving four companies, one of which is Bremen's OHB. It plans to create a floating space port in the North Sea. Having a launch site in the North Sea would provide an alternative to existing European launch sites and be another step towards giving Europe independent access to space.

ship with rocket
Partners from the shipbuilding, aerospace and logistics industries have come together to realize this ambitious project. © GOSA

Selected start-up projects

Prototype of an airplane model
The start-up is investigating various configurations and designs with several demonstrators © Polaris Raumflugzeuge

9. POLARIS Raumflugzeuge GmbH

Polaris aims to create a brand new category of space vehicle: it will take off like an airplane and then transition to rocket flight to bring its payload into orbit before returning to Earth and landing like an airplane. This ambitious team has already built the first demonstration vehicles, one of which was recently presented at the Space Tech Expo aerospace event.

10. Marble Imaging

Until now, it was the Starlink communications service operated by SpaceX that was most widely known for its use of swarms of little satellites, known as constellations. The brand new Marble Imaging start-up in Bremen plans to send its own constellation of around 200 satellites into space, with the aim of monitoring the Earth in high resolution to provide real-time data, which can then be evaluated automatically.

Screenshot Website
Still very new, but with great ambitions: Marble Imaging

Science/University/Technical University (a selection)

Surface on Mars
How can manned Mars missions survive in this inhospitable world? © Joris Wegner Universitaet Bremen

11. Humans on Mars

This project, run by the University of Bremen, will investigate options for the long-term exploration of Mars. It is looking at habitats, human aspects such as interaction and communication between people and mixed human-machine teams, and how to achieve sustainable exploitation of local resources for the production of consumables and replacement parts.

Our series "Aerospace in Bremen":

Part 1: Bremen Reaches for the Stars – 11 Current Aerospace Projects from the Hanseatic City
Part 2: 8 Aerospace Companies from Bremen

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