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Anna Till fährt zum Space Camp

April 2007

Anna Till, 6d fährt zum Space Camp 2007

Nachdem bereits im vergangenen Schuljahr eine Schülerin (Ricarda Erhart) des GRg 23/VBS unter Leitung von Mag. Robert Ptzl den Wettbewerb gewonnen hat, freuen wir uns auch heuer wieder ganz besonders über diesen großartigen Erfolg. Die Direktion und alle Lehrerinnen und Lehrer gratulieren herzlichst.

Mitteilung des BMUKK:

Lieber Herr Pitzl !

Wir freuen uns Ihnen namens des Bundesministeriums für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur mitzuteilen, dass Ihre Schülerin Anna Till ausgewählt wurde, als österreichische Vertreterin am International Space Camp 2007 in Huntsville, Alabama, teilzunehmen. Ein offzielles Schreiben des BMUKK folgt nach. Erwartet werden alle Teilnehmer am Freitag, 20. Juli 2007 in Huntsville, Alabama (USA). Das offizielle Programm beginnt am Samstag, 21. Juli um 8 Uhr in der Früh, die offizielle Parade der Nationen, Eröffnungszeremonie und Begrüssungsabendessen wird am 21. Juli um 17 Uhr stattfinden. Die Abschlusszeremonie wird am Freitag, 27. Juli um 18 Uhr stattfinden. Abreise kann ab Samstag, 28. Juli erfolgen.

Michaela Gitsch

Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft/Austrian Research Promotion Agency Agentur für Luft- und Raumfahrt/Aeronautics and Space Agency Public Relations, Education

Zusammen mit dem Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR, veranstaltete die Welt der Wunder nun schon zum fünften Mal einen Wettbewerb mit einer großartigen Chance: Anna Till gewann eine Trainingswoche im International Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Vom 20. bis 28. Juli 2007 hat sie zusammen mit 66 Schülern aus 33 Ländern die Gelegenheit, die Faszination Raumfahrt hautnah zu erleben. Sie trainiert im Tauchbecken und in der Zentrifuge. Sie erfährt alles über die Arbeit der Astronauten im All. Und: Sie simuliert selbst den Start eines Space Shuttles.

Hier der Siegeraufsatz von Anna:

Austrias History and Future in Space – Austria goes Space

I assume that just a few people know about Austrians history in space, especially about the very early years of space exploring. Neither did I, before I have read more about it. I have believed that such a little country with such little impact will not be involved in any important projects in space, at least not actively, but, indeed, we can be proud of ourselves, as you will see - read.

In the 16th century our Austrian history in space began. Back in these days many different things were discovered by Austrians, such as the Aurora Borealis Theory. But then, around the two World Wars, Austria moved back from the top of the researching nations. Just some, not such important, pioneering findings and establishments were made until 1947. After this long depressive period of our science, Austria started to participate a little bit more in scientific researches. So we conducted in the new areas of the ionosphere physics and the plasma physics, the Austrian Society for Space Research was organised, which is also a founding member of the International Astronautical Federation. Furthermore the COPERS (which is the short form of Comité Préparatoire of the Recherches Spatiales) was established, Austria joined the COSPAR and instruments for space explorations were developed and made in Austria.

The real Golden Age of our history in Outer Space began when we worked together with the European Space Agency (ESA). Specifically in 1975 the Austrian Space Agency (ASA) decided to launch a Summer School in Alpbach, Tyrol, which was jointly created by the ESA, Germany, Switzerland and, a little bit later, France. From then onwards it has been held annually. Also since this year, Austria has been participating in the programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The political motives for Austria to join the ESA has been for example the possible efforts towards European economic integration, so we had entered the OEEC (Organisation for European Economic Cooperation), the predecessor of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), became a member of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) founding. ESA members, at that time, co-operated to set up a European presence in space using their technical, industrial and scientific skills and resources. No one should wonder that Austria was keen to a membership, which can be seen as a big step towards this European economic integration. Luckily, the ESA knew this matter of fact and helped to get over some initial hesitations or doubts. The agreement of an association with the agency for five years gave Austrian experts the chance to co-operate with various ESA working groups and mission definition studies, and Austria could see how it is in programme boards and optional in the educational and study programmes. Finally, in April 1981 Austria entered the ESA, by then just as an associate member.

After the ratification and before the full membership a couple of representatives from government, academia and industry made a concept for Austrias future participation in space research. It reported Austrias state of science and future, and the responsibilities in the future.

Some main advices, for example, were the building of a national space research programme, or to concentrate on research topics, where it is necessary to go into more detail of the results of the past, and to focus on areas that are related to industry.

In 1986 an Advisory Committee for Space Research and Technology of the Austrian Government was initiated. The members of four Ministries (Science and Research, Foreign Affairs, Economy and Transport and Finance), the Federal Economic Chamber, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Conference of University Rectors and the ASSA, created a strategy for our contribution to space projects.

In 1987 Austria reached the status of a full member and could use the entire scientific and technological know-how that was related to the projects signed up for.

The first Austrian instruments in the width of Outer Space were magnetometers onboard of Venera 13 and Venera 14, which started in 1982 to travel to Venus. Also Vega 1 and Vega 2, which were set on flyby of Comet Halley in 1986, were equipped with such magnetometers. In 1983 SPACELAB-1, an European space laboratory, orbited the Earth the first time. Special windows that were developed in Austria and three Austrian experiments were space borne. Though these missions are not hundred per cent European, I have to mention them without being too patriotic; but it was the first time when something Austrian has left the Earth. And another magnetometer even got with Phobos 2 to Mars orbit in 1989. AustroMir, a project with the Soviet Union, who invited us to fly Austrian experiments and a cosmonaut to the space station Mir, is also worth mentioning. This event took place in 1991 when Franz Viehböck travelled as the first Austrian in Space.

As much as we can write about the Austrian co-operation with the Soviet Union, we can write about the founding of the ASA and our history with the ESA, where our future lies. But now back to 1972 when the Austrian Space Agency was organised for the collaboration of projects in space research and technology, the establishment and the upkeeping of contacts with foreign space agencies, for recommending space related topics to the Austrian government, the processing and the distribution of data and information to all interested parties, the public relations activities, the organisation of lectures and conferences, and the promotion of training and education of skilled students.

Since the Austrians join in the ESA, the ASA also raised our interests in their activities and programmes. So with the help of the ASA the Austrian company Österreichische Klimatechnik GmbH (ÖKG) received its first hardware contract, namely for the SPACELAB-1.

Because of the oil crisis in the early seventies the government decided to transform the Austrian Space Agency into the Austrian Solar and Space Agency (ASSA), which activities prepared our membership in the ESA including the promotion of Austrian industrial companies and research groups in different ESA projects.

Another big step for Austria was the full membership in the ESA. From then onwards all the areas that are related to solar and wind energy were handed over to the Austrian Research Centre Seibersdorf (ARCS) and the ASSA was renamed to the Austrian Space Agency only working on space researches. So in 1975 it was made possible for Austria to design and produce for the SPACELAB-1, which is a project of the ESA and the NASA.

Due to Austrias research works in the 1970s several Austrian ground stations took part in the Orbital Test (OTS) telecommunications programme, which was held from 1978 to 1983, and we also participated in the ESA OLYMPUS satellite programme in the early 1990s.

Since 1991 another Austrian performance in ESAs work is the Prodex, which shall improve the relationship between the scientific and industrial branches. So we activated our space industry in 1999 and created the National Austrian Space Plan, which was published in 2001, saying among other things that its goals are the development of products and services for commercial usage and the demonstrative use of space technologies.

The following projects and programmes are examples for co-operation within the ESA:

In 2004 the exploration of the Saturn system started. The ESA Huygens atmospheric probe is equipped with two instruments, which were mainly developed with Austrian participation and which measure atmospheric parameters.

In 2000 two Russian rockets launched with four ESA magnetospheric probes, which instruments were evolved by and with the Department of Experimental Space Research of the Space Research Institute in Graz and had previously been installed on the failed set of Cluster satellites.

The Rosetta mission carried instruments that were developed by and with the Space Research Institute. Its target is a comet, called Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which shall be studied over a long period of time.

The Mars Express job is to explore the Mars environment, especially to look for subsurface water using means of radar measurements. Also in this project the Space Research Institute is involved, namely in the calculation of the reception properties of the radar antenna system and the dielectric properties of Martian soil.

In order to study the Earths gravity field the ESA established the GOCE, which mission was to combine satellite tracking and gravity gradiometry. Here the Institute of Geodesy of the Graz University of Technology in collaboration with the Space Research Institute participated in this mission.

The Venus Express instruments are based on the experiences that we have gained over the last twenty years in the design and the functioning of magnetometers.

Doublestar is the name of a project consisting of two spacecrafts that shall complete the Cluster measurements by investigating the equatorial region and in a polar orbit. Again the Space Research Institute has done an important work to enable it.

Finally to our history I have to say that Austrias activity in space has not began when we joined the ESA as an associate member in 1981, but what we did change from then onwards. We can say, with the establishment of the ESA and some other organisations and institutions started the new age of space exploration.

So, looking back in history and forward into the future, I must say we did quite a good job and we will see what future has in store for us. This question, what Austria will do in time ahead, can only be answered vaguely:

According to the information I got from ESA homepage ( many different projects are planned, some of them have already begun, such as the biggest and most important for the general public, the GALILEO satellite system. Nowadays, the American GPS system is controlled by the military. This shall be ended with GALILEO that will be run by the public and consists of about thirty satellites. Some of them are not in the Earths orbit by now, and as I have recently heard, there are some problems, so it is expected that GALILEO can start in 2012, or not until 2014, and not as it was planned and wished in 2010.

This satellite programme will be more precise than the US GPS and the Russian GLONASS are right now, but unlike to them, GALILEO will not be controlled by the military, so it can give guarantee on an uninterrupted service. The whole system is based on a constellation of 30 satellites, 27 will be operating and three will be active spares, and, of course, ground stations. One of the five different services that will be offered will be the one that is the most important for everybody, the Open Service (OP), which is free for everyone, who possesses a receiver.

Austrias participation is mostly covered with the production of frequency-generators and centrepieces of the satellites, but also a contact point is arranged, the so-called Contact Point Austria. Its job will be to improve the exchange of information between international developments in work with the satellite-navigation and Austrian companies to ensure Austrias future involvement in this and further projects, because satellite positioning is already very essential nowadays, and it will also be of our interest in coming times.

If you want to know more about the future technologies for space missions you can inform yourself at the ESA Advanced Concepts Team. Furthermore it supports the communication between European research groups and organizations, and it shall bring certain solutions of research problems in related areas.

No human being will ever be able to travel to Mars or anywhere that is too far away from our planet, so I think it is quite important to search for new technologies. Without new inventions, no explorations will be able. And maybe, who knows, these scientists might get to know something that makes your everyday life a little bit easier or safer.

In this area Austria has many companies working, so I assume that Austria can count on new contracts with the ESA in the framework of design and production of new technologies, which might carry a human into Outer Space, or which might make a thrilling journey to the little dwarf-planet Pluto.

This branch also works in the direction of Fundamental Physics, power systems, which gets more and more important, because of global warming and the decrease of fossil fuels, then they try to develop new propulsions, they analyse missions, and improve the advanced computing systems. Though we do not get to know about technologic problems that much, they get stressed by them, the same at is in our everyday life, I do not have to mention our daily computer problems and so on. So there exists a section within the Advanced Concepts Team, the Biomimetics, to find new methods modelling the nature. The last line of their business is the Ariadna, a new founded mechanism to stimulate the experimentation on enabling space research sections by developing new design methods.

The ESA will also put more effort into the development of a new generation of launchers, therefore they have created the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), which began in February 2004. It is planned that the first launchers can operate around 2020.

Austria might be a very inventive partner in this area as well. We had a gene for building rockets, otherwise we would not have been a leading rocket power in Europe in the first half of the 19th century, maybe we can manage to activate it again and gain some good ideas. But first of all it is necessary to develop a new machinery and so on, which might be a job for Austria? For instance structural and material problems are still an obstacle to development. First challenges, like the reduction of the overall structural mass, the increase of structural margins for robustness, the sustainability and some others, must be gotten over.

In addition countries, places and universities for in-flight experimentations are needed or research groups to study and experiment with the possible architecture of a Next Generation Launcher (GNL) are required.

Another part of ESAs future programme is the General Studies Programme (GSP), which is in some kind within every project, but it has more the role of thinking, so the basic or the groundwork. Without any basis there is no improvement and no step forward, so if Austria want to be more active in this way, we need more and better universities and institutes to educate the next generation of top scientists and to provide that they will stay in Austria to bring it to the following step, the researching and experimenting.

ESAs Living Planet programme is our future. Everyday, with every single car trip, our world sees its sinking clearer and clearer. It is our mission to prevent this global warming and the complete destruction of the Earth and our surroundings. This gives the reason for the Living Planet programme, which measures, for instance the ozone or the nitrogen dioxide. Here in Austria we have got the good fortune of a quite healthy nature and environment, but how long will these circumstances last? To fight against our mistakes, we have to know their causes, that is why this branch is so important. And I think we have the famous climate scientist Prof. Dr.phil. Helga Kromp-Kolb, who has, as I am sure, the knowledge to achieve any goal that is related to the change in our climate. Austria will be a leading country in this area of scientific research, we already have many alternative power stations; we are in the future right now.

What do you need apart from new technologies to explore Outer Space? Of course, except something to study, the mission. So the Science Payload and Advanced Concepts Office (Sci-A) is responsible for the future mission and the technologies that will be used. This is also a thing of experiences and development, like it is in other sections, but this one has to co-operate with the branches of inventing new machines to develop the future needs for certain missions.

But in this line of business I do not see any future for Austria like it is now.

As I have already mentioned in the part about GALILEO, communication becomes more and more important and therefore the ESAs Telecommunications programme is essentail. Some see it as a fast development others as a plague, the technology develops that quickly that you can hardly watch. Things that were new and exciting yesterday are old-fashioned today. This project aims to keep the European business and industry at the forefront, so I believe, that the ESA will help an Austrian company if there is any that wants to work in this direction and can show some results or famous heads. The ESAs strategy is to adapt changes in circumstances and trends, to catalyst imaginations for the development of new technologies.

In conclusion, I must say that we have had quite a glory time in space; we just should not relax on our few goals we have reached in the past and start to do nothing to go to space. My opinion is, that we have done much, but we can explore and develop even more. We have to put a little bit more effort into it and to do more for our education, nothing will come to us, but we have to work for it. Austria has to spend more money on the education of scientists and on research centres, otherwise all experts will move to other countries, if there are enough researchers left, which a study says.

But looking just a little bit into the future, in some years there will be GALILEO and Austrians, hopefully, get more interested into this subject leading to a new era of telecommunication, the big future-science.