6 Years after Project start (and many more after first discussions on the successor to the GRACE mission), The US-German Gravity mission GRACE Follow-On will finally launch! It will continue the GRACE success story and flies the first inter-satellite laser interferometer, which may be seen as a LISA technology pathfinder.

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Artists impression of GRACE Follow-On [Credit:NASA]

 LIVE Stream

The launch is scheduled for Tuesday 22nd of May, between 21:30 and 23:30 German time. It will be launched with a Falcon-9 rocket of Space-X from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The launch will have a live coverage from JPL, accessable via:


(the Pre-launch briefing will also be streamed under the above link, monday 21st 19:30 German time) 

 STI workshare

STI has significantly contributed to GRACE Follow-On, namely we where responsible for:

  • the Gerrman contribution of the laser ranging interferometer (the optical bench, the retroreflector and the instrument baffles)
  • the LRI instrument integration @ STI facitlities in cooperation with JPL, DLR, Airbus DS and AEI
  • the spacecraft primary structures (structural analysis and procurement)
  • the ASTSS tertiary structure (manufactured by CST)
  • the deployable S-Band boom
  • the Coarse Earth-Sun-Sensors (CESS)
  • the satellite MGSE & transport containers

We did this in contract to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) for the LRI  (and under the scientific lead of Albert Einstein Institute Hannover - AEI) and in subcontract to Airbus DS for the other contributions. On the US side we had a close cooperation with JPL who where responsible for the mission and provided the US part of the LRI (the laser, the cavity & the phasemeter).

STI is proud to be part of this mission and thankful for the great cooperation of all project partners!

Much more information on GRACE Follow-On can be found here:


2017 06 06 ICARUS antenna team

The second and last part of the ICARUS payload has arrived to the International Space Station and is now ready for installation by the cosmonauts. The equipment, mainly consisting of the ICARUS Antenna, was launched on Tuesday 13.02.2018 at 09.13 CET inside Progress MS-08 from Baikonur Cosmodrome and arrived to the ISS on Thursday 15.02.2018 after a two days journey. The next steps are the installation and commissioning of the ICARUS on-board computer inside the ISS in April 2018 and the extra-vehicular activity for the installation of the antenna outside the Service Module Zvezda in August 2018. After the final system level tests, the payload is planned to be fully operational at the beginning of Autumn.

ICARUS payload is designed to receive science information from miniaturized devices attached to animals, known as tags, and send reconfiguration commands if needed. The hardware on the ISS is designed to communicate with more than 100 tags simultaneously, providing the capability of daily communication with thousands of devices around the Globe.

SpaceTech GmbH has developed, manufactured and tested the ICARUS payload over the last 4 years as leader of a team of German SMEs. The project was commissioned by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and is funded by the German Space Agency DLR in cooperation with Roscosmos.

Here you can find the German news about the Launch (from Schwäbische Zeitung): Press Articles


On Friday 12 December 2017, the transport of the two GRACE-FO satellites and their launch adapter from IABG to Munich Airport was successfully completed. STI helped to transport the Transport Containers with the Flight Hardware from IABG to Munich Airport Cargo Terminal and supervised the loading of the containers into a Boeing 747. The MGSE designed, manufactured and delivered by STI did an excellent job, the customer (Airbus DS) was very pleased. The Boeing 747 took off at about 10:39 local time and arrived in Los Angeles.

The GRACE Follow-On mission, scheduled for launch in early 2018, will ensure the continuation of the gravity field measurements of GRACE. The mission and satellite development are realized in a US-German cooperation. SpaceTech signed responsible for the analysis and procurement of the satellite primary and secondary structures, a deployable antenna boom, the German contribution of the laser ranging interferometer and satellite MGSE.

2017 12 19 GRACE FO MGSE und Abflug Bild1


2017 12 19 GRACE FO MGSE und Abflug Bild2


2017 10 19 S5P Launch

[Rendered image of the S5P release: the launcher opens for satellite release with the last stage still firing. Source: ESA]

On Friday 13 October 2017, the satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) was launched from the Cosmodrome in Plesezk, Russia. SpaceTech has developed and delivered the Deployable Solar Array Panel (DSAP) system for this ESA mission under an Airbus UK contract. The DSAP consists of 3 solar generator panels including the photovoltaic assembly and deployment mechanisms. While stored in the launch vehicle, the solar arrays remain stowed and are deployed once the spacecraft is released from the launcher.

The successful deployment and operation of the DSAP is another example of STI’s smart designs and high reliability. More information on S5P and the interview with STI's Project Manager Thomas Franck can be found here: Video (Source: www.schwaebische.de)


The Sentinel-5 Precursor mission (S5p) is part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative (GMES), which is a joint undertaking of the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA). The spacecraft orbits on 824 km height and collects essential data on the atmoshperic chemistry (especially the percentages of tracer gases like carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxid etc).


2017 10 05 Besuch Umweltminister Untersteller03

On September 20, 2017, the Federal State Minister for Environment, Franz Untersteller, visited SpaceTech. CEO Wolfgang Pitz and some of STI's project managers received him and his colleague Markus Böhlen of the Green Party. During a guided tour and a short company presentation, the minister got an insight to the success story and the most important scientific satellite missions of the German Space SME.

Franz Untersteller (MdL) zu Besuch bei SpaceTech in Immenstaad

Franz Untersteller, Minister für Umwelt, Klima und Energiewirtschaft der baden-württembergischen Landesregierung, besuchte am Mittwoch, dem 20. September 2017, das mittelständige Raumfahrt-Unternehmen SpaceTech in Immenstaad am Bodensee. In Begleitung seines Parteikollegen Markus Böhlen vom Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen nahm er sich fast 2 Stunden Zeit, um sich über die technologischen Fähigkeiten des Raumfahrt-Mittelständlers zu informieren. Vor Ort wurde er von Geschäftsführer Wolfgang Pitz und Mitgliedern des Führungsteams empfangen. Bei einer Firmenvorstellung konnte der Minister Einblick in die Erfolgsgeschichte sowie in einzelne Vorzeigeprojekte von SpaceTech erlangen. Besonders der Arbeitsfortschritt bei wissenschaftlichen Missionen mit spezieller Relevanz für sein Ressort stießen bei dem Minister auf großes Interesse. So beispielsweise das Projekt ICARUS, welches SpaceTech für das Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie mit Förderung des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft und Raumfahrt DLR durchführt. Dabei soll im Februar 2018 eine Antenne auf der Internationalen Raumstation installiert werden, die weltweit Signale von Tiersendern empfängt. Mit den so gewonnenen Informationen können beispielsweise Migrationsbewegungen von Tieren genauer erforscht werden und verbesserte Aussagen über das Tierverhalten sowie über die Ausbreitung von Tierkrankheiten getroffen werden. Weiterhin fanden die Beiträge von SpaceTech zur deutsch-französischen Satellitenmission MERLIN Anklang bei Minister Untersteller. Nach dem Start des Satelliten in 2021 wird MERLIN die Erdatmosphäre in nie dagewesener Auflösung auf die Konzentration des Treibhausgases Methan untersuchen. SpaceTechs Zukunftspläne im Bereich der solaren Energieerzeugung für Satelliten waren ebenfalls ein Thema. Der Hersteller von Weltraum-Solargeneratoren hat mit harter internationaler Konkurrenz zu kämpfen und begegnet dieser Herausforderung mit intelligenten Designs und hoher Automatisierung der Produktion. Der Minister war beeindruckt vom Ideenreichtum und vom Innovationsvermögen des Raumfahrt-Mittelständlers – ein Paradebeispiel für die baden-württembergische Hochtechnologiebranche.

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