Marcel Hesselmann is a young scientist who is currently researching how using innovative new materials can cut the cost of sending rockets into space. Working as part of the @ALL collaborative project, he's using the facilities at ECOMAT in Bremen to launch his professional career.
Aluminium is a popular material for aerospace applications: it's lightweight, stable, easily procured and inexpensive. However, on its own, aluminium is unable to withstand the extreme conditions of a rocket launch. This is why alloys are used in the construction of assemblies and components such rocket engines. These alloys frequently involve rare earths or other extremely expensive metals, and this can greatly increase costs and reduce efficiency.
However, it's not merely the drive to cut costs that makes the search for new materials such an important step on the path to conquering space. There's also a much more important factor: materials with new properties and improved lightweight structures give engineers greater scope for building more powerful rockets that can carry greater payloads.
Bremen is also playing a role in this, thanks to the help provided by the Leibniz-Institut für Werkstofforientierte Technologien (Leibniz Institute for Materials Engineering (IWT)). To be more precise, the help is being provided by Marcel Hesselmann, a research associate at the Leibniz Institut in Bremen. He is part of the "@ALL – Additive Fertigung für Aluminium-Trägerraketenstrukturen" (additive manufacturing for aluminium launch vehicle structures) (German) project (PDF, p.8), a joint research project involving several members of the ECOMAT research and technology centre: Airbus, the ArianeGroup and the IWT itself. The companies Materialise and Innojoin, and the Alfred Wegener Institute, and the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) are also involved.