+49 (0) 421 9600-10
27 September 2018 - Astrid Labbert

Bringing the universe to Bremen

Bremen welcomes the international space industry

Every year, the movers and shakers of the space industry gather at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). From 1 to 5 October, it will be Bremen’s turn to host the event. A team from the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) has been working on the preparations for the past five years. Around 4,000 experts are expected to attend, and Elon Musk could be one of them.

Peter von Kampen is ZARM’s Chief Financial Officer.
Peter von Kampen is ZARM’s Chief Financial Officer. His team have been working on the preparations for the IAC in Bremen for five years. © WFB/Focke Strangmann

International congress with live link to ‘Astro Alex’

The challenges in space are of a different order to those on earth. “How do you weigh yourself in zero gravity? The answer is shaking. We bounce ourselves at the end of a spring loaded rod, and use the time it takes for one bounce to determine our exact body mass.” That was one of the recent tweets sent by @Astro_Alex. German astronaut Alexander Gerst has been back on board the ISS since June 2018. Over 1.2 million people follow him on Twitter to hear all about his adventures in space, and he will soon be answering questions in Bremen via a live link. The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) will provide a worthy setting for the call, with around 4,000 experts from industry, academia and politics in attendance at the event.

Five years of preparation

Space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency will also be represented in Bremen. “The event will focus on all aspects of space travel, whether theoretical or technical,” says Peter von Kampen, Chief Financial Officer of the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. His team have been working on the preparations for the IAC, which takes place in a different location every year, for five years. The event will provide a platform for discussing not only the latest developments in space research but also future space exploration.

Bremen hosts the IAC for the second time

The idea for the congress was born out of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), which was founded in 1951 and today brings together some 350 institutions from 68 countries. The organisers of the event in Bremen successfully applied to host the congress for the second time and have had their hands full ever since. The technical programme alone comprises more than 2,000 contributions. A host of other events will take place in parallel to this, including a conference on ‘space law’ hosted in one of Bremen’s courtrooms, a congress at the university for students and people looking to get into the industry, and a congress for schoolchildren. “We want to get more people, and especially girls, interested in the STEM subjects,” says Peter von Kampen. This chimes with the theme for this year’s event: ‘Involving everyone’.

ZARM at Uni Bremen
First held in 1950, the IAC has been held in Germany five times and in Bremen once before, in 2003. This year’s event is being organised by the University of Bremen’s Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity. © WFB/Focke Strangmann

Theme for 2018: ‘Involving everyone’

The IAF has chosen its theme to signal that it is looking for greater diversity in the space industry. Peter von Kampen and his team are therefore encouraging not only young people to take part but also countries that are new to the space industry. Greater participation by women is also a focus, as they have traditionally been under-represented in the industry. Some 12,000 people are employed in the aerospace industry in Bremen, for example, but only 20 per cent of them are women. “For us, it’s about creating an environment that will get all those involved to think about these issues,” says von Kampen, summarising the idea.

Everyone welcome on the Day of German Unity

On Public Day on 3 October, the exhibition halls will be open to the public. “Space travel is an exciting subject, but also a complicated one. It’s important for us to engage with people so that they know what is happening out there and down here,” says von Kampen. Between 12 noon and 6pm, interested members of the public can visit the IAC for free and watch the live link with Alexander Gerst. Some of his fellow astronauts will be there in person in Bremen to talk about their work. “It’ll be an opportunity to ask what you’ve always wanted to,” says Annika Teubner, who is helping to coordinate PR activities for the congress. In the 10,000 square metre exhibition area, space enthusiasts can satisfy their curiosity at stands runs by various businesses and organisations. “We are hoping for an additional 5,000 visitors on Public Day,” says Teubner.

The IAC, back in Bremen

First held in 1950, the IAC has been held in Germany five times and in Bremen once before, in 2003. Peter von Kampen was one those who attended back then. A lot has happened in the interim. The IAC has got bigger and Bremen has grown in importance as a space hub. But above all, space technology is now having an impact on our everyday lives, as Peter von Kampen explains: “We use findings from space research and earth observation without even thinking about it: satellite navigation is a prime example. The increasing accuracy of weather forecasts is also thanks to space technologies.”

Annika Teubner is helping to coordinate PR activities for the IAA.
Annika Teubner, who is helping to coordinate PR activities for the IAC, is hoping for an additional 5,000 visitors on Public Day. © WFB/Focke Strangmann

Glamour factor: is Elon Musk coming?

In 2018, it became clear to the world that the industry also has a different, and more commercial, face. Space travel has long been an object of interest for entrepreneurs, including Elon Musk. The co-founder of US company Space X and electric car manufacturer Tesla has been causing a stir thanks to his missions and rocket developments and his exciting ideas for space colonisation and space tourism. Musk has attended the IAC in the past, and the closer we get to the opening day, the more the organisers are being asked the question: is Elon Musk coming?

A programme packed with highlights

Regardless of whether Musk makes an appearance, ZARM is confident that the programme will be packed with highlights. These will include updates from current space missions: the German Aerospace Center’s MASCOT lander, for example, which has been up in space for four years now, will reach its destination and land on an asteroid in the week that the congress is being held. A live ticker will broadcast its progress in the exhibition halls. The German Aerospace Center is one of the local supporters of the congress, along with the companies OHB, Airbus Defence and Space, ArianeGroup and MT Aerospace, as well as the Federal State of Bremen. “Bremen has an incredible breadth of expertise,” says von Kampen. “We want to show what Bremen has to offer in terms of space travel and to welcome the world to our city. One of our goals, of course, is to enter into new collaborations.”

Bremen on a par with Toronto and Washington

Recent hosts of the IAC include cities such as Toronto and Jerusalem. Next year’s event will be held in Washington; in 2020 it will be the turn of Dubai. “In between, we have little old Bremen. It’s brilliant that we are able to hold our own in such distinguished company,” says von Kampen. “Bremen is the biggest hub for the space industry in Germany and is a major player at European level too. We want to build on this and tell the world what we’re about.”

Press contact: Annika Teubner, Tel.: +49 421-218 57821, E-Mail: annika.teubner@zarm.uni-bremen.de

Success stories
16 January 2020
50 years of the Bremen Fibre Institute

Fibre composites have become a permanent fixture in everyday life. The Bremen Fibre Institute (FIBRE) has been working on these materials for five decades, and has gained another strong partner this year in the form of the ECOMAT research centre.

13 November 2019
Tradition meets innovation

The state of Bremen covers 420 square kilometres and is home to around 670,000 people. Almost 22,000 companies provide more than 325,000 jobs. Below, we introduce some of the strong sectors that that make Bremen such an excellent business location.

21 August 2019
Hives, bees and sweet gold

Honey is sweet and full of trace elements, minerals and vitamins. This healthy treat is particularly special to Bremen, as the city is home to a whole host of importers, researchers, laboratories and entrepreneurs focused on bees and honey.

Investing in Bremen
20 May 2019
New incubator for space start-ups in Bremen

The ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Northern Germany is a new beacon project for the aerospace sector in Bremen.

20 November 2018
Space exploration takes flight in Bremen

The path into space begins in Bremen. Production on the upper stage of the Ariane 6, the latest generation of Europe’s launch vehicle, is set to start shortly next to Bremen Airport. The launcher is intended to guarantee Europe independent access to space.

Success stories
13 November 2018
Bremen is one of Germany’s leading industrial hubs

Bremen is Germany’s sixth-largest industrial hub in terms of revenue. Whether the sector is aerospace, food, automotive, shipping or steel production, Bremen has always been a major player.

2 October 2018
The space industry in Bremen: living and working in the Hanseatic city

Nowhere in Germany is bigger in the aerospace industry than Bremen. We spoke to Bremen-based scientists working on the space side of aerospace about their projects, their life in the city, and their tips on where to live and where to visit.

20 September 2018
How digital media is shaping society

How is the role of media and other forms of communication changing in society? What are the resulting challenges? The international MA in Digital Media and Society, which launches at the University of Bremen in time for the winter semester, aims to provide the answers.

Success stories
6 September 2018
Safety first: sensor expertise in Bremen

We don’t normally get to see Littelfuse’s products. And yet there’s hardly any electronic device that doesn’t require components from this global market leader. The European headquarters of the US firm are located in Bremen. And they’re far more than just a sales office.

23 August 2018
InnoWi – Bremen’s patent application specialists

Good ideas may be rare, but imitators are easy to find. Which makes it all the more important to secure patents for new inventions. Bremen-based InnoWi helps companies and the research community to register new patents, and is also on hand to provide advice and access to funding.

26 July 2018
Surveying space

The exploration of celestial bodies, such as Mars, Mercury and the moon, requires detailed geological maps. An international research project is now laying the foundations for this. Bremen-based geologist Dr Angelo Pio Rossi is one of the initiators of the data project.

Investing in Bremen
17 July 2018
Major project on the key technology of lightweight construction is taking shape

The construction of the complex new EcoMaT research and technology centre at Airport-Stadt Bremen is at an advanced stage. Prospective tenants include Airbus and Testia, as well as a number of leading medium-sized businesses and scientific institutions. After the topping-out ceremony, work will get under way on the interior of the building.

Maritime economy and logistics
12 July 2018
Exploring the seafloor with intelligent software

The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. What is the precise composition of the seafloor? What flora and fauna inhabit it? Where has the delicate balance of the ecosystem been seriously disrupted? We still don’t have complete answers to any of these questions, but four young scientists from Bremen are aiming to change that.

31 May 2018
Women in Aerospace – an organization promoting women in space industry

Space is not just a man’s business. The global network Women in Aerospace (WIA) aims to increase women’s leadership opportunities and visibility in the space industry – also in Bremen. An interview with Antonella Sgambati und Michela Cantisani, coordinators of WIA Bremen.

29 May 2018
Science and research in Bremen: living and working in the Hanseatic city

There are 35,000 students at eight universities in Bremen, as well as numerous research establishments, all of which work together successfully. It is a dynamic centre of science and learning. We spoke to a number of researchers and academics to find out what it’s like to live and work in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

22 May 2018
Artificial intelligence made in Bremen

Artificial intelligence isn’t just a matter of computer programming. It’s a challenging question: how can a robot successfully deal with real, unpredictable surroundings? For 30 years, solutions to this problem have been developed at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). This Bremen-based facility has been so successful that its employees are now founding their own company.

Investing in Bremen
24 April 2018
Bremen Airport-Stadt: where aerospace and business meet

Bremen Airport-Stadt is an international transport hub and a centre of excellence for the aerospace industry and for research and learning. It occupies a leading position among Germany’s airport locations. Here are ten benefits that Bremen Airport-Stadt offers.

27 February 2018
Moon living

One day, astronauts will live and carry out research on the moon – and even a colony on Mars is no longer the distant utopian dream it once was. But how will people be able to live in an extraterrestrial environment? The Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen is working on a solution.

1 November 2017
Studying aerospace engineering in Bremen

Space technologies have advanced greatly in recent years, leading to increasing demands from the business and research sectors. To meet these requirements, Bremen University now offers unique master’s degrees in Space Engineering and Space Sciences and Technologies.

12 October 2017
Prepare for bake off

If astronauts want to get all the way to Mars one day, they’ll need food supplies for the journey. Part of the solution could be to grow their own grains and bake bread themselves. Bremen start-up Bake in Space is on the verge of making this vision a reality.

Maritime economy and logistics
27 September 2017
Where space and deep sea meet

The research alliance ROBEX is sending robots up active volcanoes and down into the deepest and darkest seas. Working across disciplines, the 120 scientists of the 16 institutes involved are breaking new ground on this project. They have been eagerly waiting to find out what has happened to the TRAMPER diving robot, which has been exploring the deep seas around Spitsbergen for a year. Now they are ready to bring it back.

11 July 2017
To boldly go, and safely return – behind the scenes at Ariane Group

The multi-million-mile journey of the Ariane 5 rocket begins in Bremen, while that of Spacelab came to an end here in 1999, after 15 years of service with 22 missions to outer space. Ariane Group in Bremen is the ideal place to experience the history of space travel.

Investing in Bremen
13 June 2017
Airbus’ site manager Dr André Walter: “For us, digitalisation means making work easier and more efficient”

A great deal of manual labour goes into aircraft construction. Despite this – or perhaps even because of it – Airbus is changing its approach to make increased use of digital technologies. It’s also researching the applications of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. And not a moment too soon, as Airbus’ site manager in Bremen, Dr André Walter, explains in our interview.

15 February 2017
"Bremen has everything that a hub for the space industry needs"

In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.

14 February 2017
Take-off for Bremen: what makes the city a hub for aerospace expertise

The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.

31 January 2017
“50 per cent of the exhibition space has already been reserved”

In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.

31 January 2017
“50 per cent of the exhibition space has already been reserved”

In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.