From 23 August 2021, students from universities in Germany and Luxembourg can enter their own experiment ideas in the "Überflieger 2" competition run by the German Space Agency at DLR and the Luxembourg Space Agency. The contest is open to ideas from all scientific disciplines. The experiments of the winning teams will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) by a supply flight and carried out there. Before that, however, a lot of work awaits the young researchers, as the experiments will need to be designed, built and tested by the students themselves. The closing date for entries for Überflieger 2 is 15 October 2021. The experiments are to be launched to the ISS at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023.
A space mission during your studies
"Implementing a real space project in such a short period of time is a very intense, challenging experience for the participants," says Johannes Weppler, project manager of the competition at DLR. "It allows them to gain unique practical experience already during their studies." Among the conditions of the competition is the requirement that the experimental facilities must fit into a prefabricated container measuring 10x10x20 centimetres. In addition, the experiments should run without any intervention by the astronauts. In addition, they should use the special environment of the ISS – such as weightlessness or space radiation – for their research. The contest will result in four winning experiments in total: three from Germany and one from Luxembourg.
The selection is made via a two-stage procedure: A jury of experts will select the eight best German and four best Luxembourgish experiment proposals from all the entries. These teams are given the opportunity to present their experiment ideas in detail to the jury and to answer potential questions. In the end, the four winning teams will be chosen, who will then have the unique opportunity to realise their own experiment for the ISS.
Winning teams will be live at the rocket launch
The winning teams will receive financial support and technical advice for the implementation of their ideas. Over a period of twelve to fifteen months, the teams will work intensively on building the experiments. Finally, at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023, the experiments will be launched to the ISS, where they will then be operated for at least 30 days. As an additional highlight, the teams will be able to attend the rocket launch of their experiments on site at the launch pad.
Student experiments EXCISS, ARISE and PAPELL with Überflieger 1 on the ISS
The first Überflieger competition took place from 2016 to 2018 and brought the three student experiments EXCISS (University of Frankfurt), ARISE (University of Duisburg-Essen) and PAPELL (University of Stuttgart) to the ISS. At that time, only students from German universities could apply. Thanks to the cooperation of the German Space Agency at DLR and the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), Überflieger 2 is now being extended to students from the neighbouring country. "Building up expertise and encouraging the next generation in the space industry is key to the development of this sector, in Luxembourg but also at the international level," says Bob Lamboray, project manager of Überflieger 2 at the LSA. "This makes it all the more important for us to raise awareness on the entrepreneurial and scientific potential of space. Therefore, we are very pleased to make it possible for the students from Luxembourg to participate in the competition."
The German Physical Society (DPG) supports Überflieger 2 in the selection of the experiments and publicising the project. The technical implementation is being carried out by the company yuri GmbH from Meckenbeuren in Baden-Württemberg. The German part of Überflieger 2 is financed with funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
All information on the programme, the technical requirements for the experiment and the submission can be found on the project website www.ueberflieger.space.