31. October 2019 – Munich, Germany —
We are back from the States. Behind us lies an exciting week full of interesting lectures, inspiring people and some holiday feeling.
As you know, last week we were in Washington D.C., USA, at the International Astronautical Congress, one of the largest international space conferences. The 70th edition of the event was themed “The Power of the Past, the Promise of the Future” and marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing. Accordingly, Moon Exploration and Human Spaceflight have been enduring themes, further enhanced by the emerging possibilities of Mars settlement.
The conference was held at the Washington Convention Center and consisted of plenary sessions, lectures and meetings, as well as an exhibition attended by participants from academia, industry and politics.
The opening ceremony on Monday was marked by speeches, bombastic short films about the various actors and the past and future of space travel, as well as dance and singing. One highlight was a short speech by Buzz Aldrin, member of the Apollo 11 crew and the second person to set foot on the moon! United States Vice President Mike Pence held the closing speech for this entertaining show.
Afterwards, the exhibiton was opened directly, where we spent a large part of our time throughout the week. The different booths showed current projects, often in the form of physical hardware, or presented their activities in the form of films and flyers. In addition to various models of lunar lander modules and rocket engines, space suits and Marsrovers were on display. The list of stand operators was long and well-known, along with NASA, the DLR, Rocketlab, JAXA, the ULA, Rockedyne, Northrop Grumman and many others were represented. In the course of the week many interesting discussions resulted, whereby we were already well-known as Team AIMIS with our caps after a few days!
The main content of the IAC, however, consisted of the technical sessions and plenary sessions. Between 09:00 and 18:00 there were presentations in different rooms parallel covering the most diverse topics of space travel. In addition to the topics already discussed, they dealt with the handling of space debris, the influence of the space environment on the human body, various propulsion methods for space vehicles or the current state of various active space projects. The lectures were very numerous and very interesting, they all followed the publication of a scientific paper.
There were also well-attended major events, such as a plenary session with former Space Shuttle astronauts or the leading minds of the major space agencies. All in all, the IAC was a richly set table for space enthusiasts and so we felt quite comfortable during those five days.
As you know, our contribution to the IAC consisted of two lectures that covered our project. Jannik kicked off on Tuesday with a summary of the capabilities of manufacturing components in space, including our approach, in the Technology to Enable Space Systems session. The talk was well attended with nearly 70 participants. Naturally, we were fully present as moral support wearing our AIMIS polo shirts.
On Wednesday, Alex introduced our experiment to a jury in the Student Competition. His focus was on the development and construction of our experiment as well as the solutions we have found for various problems. The competition was made up of students from all over the world, who in turn run projects in the space sector. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the first place.
In addition to the conference, there was also some time to visit the sights of the American capital. So, in the best of autumn weather, we went for a walk around the National Mall with Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol and White House.
A highlight, however, was the visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with exhibits from the history of aerospace. These included unique exhibits such as the Hubble telescope, the Skylab, the space capsules Mercury and Gemini, and an actual moon-drenched space suit of the Apollo 15 mission.
The week ended with a visit to the museum’s grounds near the international airport. There is, in addition to nearly all flying devices the US Armed Forces ever used in the last 70 years, the decommissioned Space Shuttle Discovery. The space shuttle was 39 times in space and looks even more impressive than on photo or video recordings!
The sight was the culmination of an eventful week filled with space themes in all shapes and colors.
So, after this little excursion we are back this week to the integration of our experiment. And while we still gather, we leave you with our impressions from the US in our gallery.
At our next update the experiment will hopefully contain much more metal besides the electrics! And maybe there will soon be the first look at our rocket module, in which we will install our device.
So, have a nice week!