GRACE-FO Satellites with MGSE by STI transported to Los Angeles

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.

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2017 12 19 GRACE FO MGSE und Abflug Bild2

Successful Launch of Sentinel-5 P

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[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:


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).

Federal State Minister for Environment visits SpaceTech

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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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Antenna Test for JUICE RIME with Helicopter

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The RIME Antenna, SpaceTech's contribution to the ESA JUICE mission, was tested on a glider airfield in Heiligenberg, not far from SpaceTech premises. RIME (Radar for Icy Moons Exploration) is an instrument which will investigate the geophysical structure of Jupiter's three largest icy moons – Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The instrument is part of the JUICE satellite (short for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) which is currently built by Airbus DS and will begin its journey to Jupiter in 2022, arriving there in 2029. Scientific goal of this mission is to search for liquid water below the ice sheets which cover the surfaces of the moons. Liquid water is considered the basis of life in the universe.

The highly sensitive RIME antenna, designed and built by SpaceTech, will enable the RIME Radar to penetrate the surface to a depth of up to 9 kilometers. It is made of ultralight CFRP material and will be folded multiple times to fit under the fairing of the launch vehicle. Once released in space, the antenna will unfold and assume its final length of approximately 16.6 meters. Thanks to SpaceTech’s innovative technological solution for the deployment mechanism, the total antenna mass amounts to less than 2 kg. Low mass is particularly important to save propellant on the long flight to Jupiter.

Before the flight to Jupiter, the antenna performance was now tested thoroughly on ground. The radar characteristics were measured during several helicopter flights, with a JUICE satellite mock-up including RIME Antenna suspended from a rope of 120 meters in lenght. For the measurements the antenna had to be held accurately in position, 150 meters above ground - not easy considering shear winds and the payload behaving like a large pendulum, But the experienced pilots mastered it perfectly and all measurements were completed as planned.

The video of the test campaign can be found in the Airbus Newsroom.

More information about the JUICE mission can be gathered on the ESA web site:

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FORMOSAT-5 - Successful launch

Formosat 5 SatellitNSPO       Formosat 5 SatellitNSPO        Formosat 5 SatellitNSPO

left to right: N.Beller and B. Doll (STI) in front of FORMOSAT-5 [Source:NSPO] / FORMOSAT-5 [Source:NSPO] / FORMOSAT-5 Launch [Source:SpaceX]

Yesterday, at 20:51 MEST, FORMOSAT-5 was launched from Air Force Base Vandenburg (California,USA) onboard of a Falcon 9 from SpaceX. 82 minutes and 56 seconds after launch, Svalbard station acquired a healthy signal from FORMOSAT-5. NSPO mission team will now monitor an configure the satellite in the coming days.

FORMOSAT-5 is the first space program for which Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO) has taken full responsibility for the design, development and system integration.

FORMOSAT-5 will operate in a sun synchronous orbit at 720-km altitude with 98.28-degree inclination angle. The primary payload is the optical Remote Sensing Instrument (RSI) with a 2-m resolution panchromatic (PAN, black & white) and 4-m resolution multi-spectral (MS, color) images. It consists of one PAN band with 12,000 pixels and four MS bands with 6000 pixels each. Further scientific instruments as secondary payload are under investigation and evalution. FORMOSAT-5 also hosts a secondary scientific payload, an Advanced Ionospheric Probe (AIP), developed by Taiwan’s National Central University.

Under contract to NSPO, SpaceTech signed responsible for

  • satellite system engineering support to NSPO
  • hardware development support to NSPO and domestic industry
  • world-wide procurement of the major portion of the satellite hardware.

And in addition to the system design support and equipment procurement, STI manufactured and delivered:

  • the solar arrays
  • the sun sensors
  • the satellite structure
  • and the cold gas propulsion system

SpaceTech congratulates NSPO for this success and is proud to have been part of the FORMOSAT-5 Satellite development. We considers the experience and flight heritage gained in this mission a major milestone on our way to become an established small satellite provide, delivering smart, highly cost efficient, reliable and robust space systems.

The satellite launch can be seen here:

Further news on the satellite can be found at: