Space Technology

AG Exploration & Propulsion

The "Exploration and Propulsion" working group is involved in exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Currently, research focuses on the development of key technologies to support the construction of a future international lunar base, the investigation of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) techniques, and space propulsion systems with the goal of utilizing near-lunar space.

The main research topics of the group are:

  • Utilization of local resources: The use of in-situ resources utilization (ISRU), for example the regolith of the lunar surface, enables a significant reduction in transport costs and a flexible expansion of infrastructures without the need for supplies from Earth. The working group is developing processes and technologies for this purpose, such as methods for additive manufacturing of structures from local mineral raw materials and for harnessing other existing resources such as metals and water.
  • Propulsion systems for small satellites and space probes: Investigation and development of innovative propulsion concepts for cost-effective and flexible CubeSat missions beyond low-Earth orbit. These should allow spacecraft to generate high velocity changes under their own power, for example for trajectories to the Moon or adjustments of orbital parameters. In addition, research is being carried out into how propellants can be produced using the deposits available on the Moon and how they can be used to power rocket engines.
  • Lunar Science: The Moon is an important research object for astronautics, but at the same time its unique properties make it an ideal location for research instruments, such as telescopes. For this purpose, the working group develops concepts for high-performance and cost-effective research missions. These build on the results for the utilization of local raw materials and innovative propulsion concepts.   

The activities are integrated into the other work areas of the Chair of Space Technology as well as into national and international research projects. This achieves an active role in contributing to the strategy of future space exploration and allows the identification of current research topics.

    Project Overview

    DFG LEGUMLaser melting of extraplanetary rock under lunar conditions
    DLR EDAM-Rpowder handling and Additive Manufacturing using lunar-Regolith
    DLR ELMOREGeschlossene Elektrochemische Prozesse zur Gewinnung reiner Elemente aus Mond-Regolith
    DLR MOONRISE-FMErprobung des mobilen selektiven Laserschmelzen von Regolith auf der Mondoberfläche mit Hilfe von künstlicher Intelligenz
    DLR SoMoAn innovative manufacturing process for solar cells made from Moon regolith
    ESA LUNAR ISLANDSLunar In-Situ Landing Structures
    ESA MoonCombining ISRU and Space Debris for Constructions on the Moon
    ESA M-SLMMobile - Selective Laser Melting (M-SLM) for Constructions on the Moon

    Staff of the work group

    Dr.-Ing. Stefan LinkeGroup LeaderF 521
    M. Sc. Julian BaaschProject Manager, Lab Manager ISRU-LabF 506
    M. Sc. Johannes BeckerProject Manager, Head of PropulsionF 517
    M. Sc. Juan Carlos Ginés PalomaresProject ManagerF 506
    M. Sc. Benedict GrefenProject Manager, Head of PropulsionF 517
    M. Sc. Joel PatzwaldProject Manager, Lab Manager Regolith-LabF 518
    M. Sc. Simon StapperfendProject Manager, Lab Manager Exploration-Lab, Head of RoboticsF 518


    Organization name Chair Space Technology
    Building F
    Room F 521