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German Space Program

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German Aerospace Center, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., founded 1969

The German Space Program can be comprised of research conducted as early as 1907.


  • 1907–1969 Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt (AVA), "Aerodynamic Experimental Station"
  • 1927 Verein für Raumschiffahrt e.V. (VfR), "Association of Space-Flight Reg. Assoc."
  • 1947–1948 Arbeitsgemeinschaft Weltraumfahrt, "Consortium on Space Flight"
  • 1948–1972 Gesellschaft für Weltraumforschung (GfW), "Society for Space Research"
  • 1969–1989 Deutsche Forschungs- und Versuchsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DGVLR), "German Test and Research Institute for Aviation and Space Flight"
  • 1989–1997 Deutsche Agentur für Raumfahrtangelegenheiten (DARA), German Aerospace Agency
  • 1989–1997 Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), "German Research Institute for Aviation and Space Flight"
  • 1997–present Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) "German Center for Aviation and Space Flight" German Aerospace Center
  • 1970–present Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme (IRS) Institute for Space systems

Non-military research Edit

For many persons, rockets are same war devices. That there are also rockets for non-military space flight and for atmospheric sounding, come nowadays in Germany totally out of the consciousness. Why actually? There were between 1988 and 1992 in Zingst in former GDR launches of non-military rockets for temperatures and wind measurements in the high atmosphere started. Also model rocketry is much more unknown in Germany than in other comparable countries. Even in the countries of Eastern Europe, there are more model rocket hobbyists than in Germany. Chance? In the past, this was not always so: in the 1950 and 1960's the "German rocket company e. V." and the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." were engaged in the education of new generation of academics for the rocket technology. This company was allowed to launch between 1957 and 1964 near Cuxhaven rockets, that reached heights until 50 km! If one considers, that this company consisted of voluntary basis active members, this was already a notable achievement: even today there are even in the USA only very few societies that can do this. One of the people, which learned at the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V,." the art of rocket building, was Berthold Seliger, which operated before he got contact with the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." a motorscooter workshop in Orsoy at the Rhine. Berthold Seliger founded at the start of the 1960ies a company for rocket construction, the „Berthold-Seliger-Forschungs and development company mbH", which constructed at least partly reusable rockets, from which at least one model was able to reach heights of more than 100 km.

Cancellation of tests in 1964Edit

Berthold Seliger demonstrated in December 1963 some of its rockets to military representatives of non-NATO country military offices in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone, which resulted in protests of the former Soviet Union against the rocket experiments in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone. In 1964 at a rocket demonstration of Gerhard Zucker in Braunlage a deadly accident occurred. After this experiments the rocket experiments in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone were prohibited with a temporary decree and this although at the rocket experiments in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone a dangerous incident occured. (The „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." enjoyed in its insurance a very high appearance) One said at those days that the rocket experiments in the cotton wadding zone of Cuxhaven could be resumed, as soon as new security measures were prepared. Yet this did not happen until today and one can say that the accident at the rocket demonstration of Gerhard Zucker in Braunlage was only a good reason to prohibit the experiments.

Knowledge about experiments forgotten Edit

Is it not also very remarkable that actually never over the rocket attempts in the cotton wadding zone by Cuxhaven in the media more was reported? It almost entirely is forgotten nowadays that between 1957 and 1964 in the cotton wadding zone of Cuxhaven over 500 rockets, begun of small missiles for sea rescue up to real sounding rockets, that could highly flew over 100 km, of Ernst Moor who were started "Hermann - Oberth - company e. V." and the "Bertold - Seliger - research and development company mbH".

The most remarkable of this missile were the meteorological rocket of Moor, which reached at the 14.9.1958 in your first successful flights a height of 50 kilometers, the "Kumulus" and "Cirrus" of the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." with reached heights of 20 and/or 35 kilometers and the rockets of the "Bertold - Seliger- research and development company mbH". Latter reached altitudes of 50 km in the single stage version, in the two-stage version of 80 and in the three stage version of more than 100 kilometers. They were the only height research rockets constructed in the post-war Germany.

Surpression of new research Edit

All attempts of the German air travel and defense industry to construct similar rockets after 1964 failed according to the book , "meteorological rockets in Germany" of H. U Widdel, usually already in the beginning phase. Until December 1963, the rocket attempts in Cuxhaven stood under purely civil aspects. Various experimental payloads were transported with the rockets and landed after completed mission at the parachute. The „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." operated at that time also various handicrafts programs for the new generation of academics. One planned to build up a new technical elite. On December 5th, 1963, the "Bertold - Seliger - research and development company mbH" showed some militarily useable rockets to various representatives of military out of not-NATO-countries. These rockets possessed no warhead and landed after completed mission at the parachute. They were however fully controllable and would have been useanle as weapon systems. In this flight demonstration, one made allowance for also the circumstance that toward allied rights in Germany no military rockets with ranges of more than 30 kilometer ranges would be allowed to built

Nevertheless this action led to political irritations, especially to protests of the Soviet Union led have and one strove on, must to forbid these rocket experiments in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone as soon as possible. To impose a simple ban, one wanted also not, for these flights were at the population very chooses, for one could at start day often in Cuxhaven rocket postal service with special stamp abandon. Such postal service pieces are popular collector objects. And so the attempts went beginning 1964 first once further. Then, at the 7.5.1964, a deadly accident happened in a rocket flight day of Gerhard Zucker in Braunlage. A rocket was exploded shortly after the launch and debris fell on the spectators, who were much too closely at the launching ramp. Hereby 3 persons were killed. Although Gerhard Zucker did not colloberate with the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." and the "Bertold - Seliger - research and development company mbH" never and was regarded of these even as a bad experimentator, the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V”. received for its next launch day at the 6.6.1964 no flight permission any more! Interestingly enough the air law was used for explaining this. The rocket accident in Braunlage was a typical explosion accident. And therefore the laws concerning handling explosive material would be more suitable. Not all kinds of rocket experiments were prohibited to the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V”. Launches with flight heights of less than 100 meters were still allowed, but for a company, which can successfully construct andlaunch rockets, which can reach the high atmosphere, such attempts absolutely uninteresting.

One tried to convince the authorities that these measures against the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V” were too hard as the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V” launched already several hundred rockets in the cotton wadding zone of Cuxhaven, without a single incident. The „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." had a good reputation even at the insurance companies. But all this did not convince the authorities to cancel the flight ban. One promised representatives of the „Herrmann-Oberth-Gesellschaft e. V." that as soon as new security measures are worked out, again rockets could be launched in the Cuxhavener cotton wadding zone. Yet this never happened, although it might have been easily realizable according the previous experiences.

The failures of the German military industry Edit

" Herrmann Oberth society e.V." and "Berthold Seliger research and development company mbH" were not the only institutions in postwar Germany, which tried in the rocket construction. Also at the relevant industry there were numerous projects, which did not often even reach however the test stage. In the 1961 in the " Ministry for Atomkernenergie" , the today's Ministry of Research of the Federal Republic of Germany to develop and to the same submit long-term development plans for space research, because also in Germany one wanted at relevant developments sharings, since one wanted also in Germany at the rapid development in the area of the spacecraft sharings. In 1962 were after the establishment of the European space research organizations ESRO and ELDO, which were combined 1975 to the ESA, a “Commission for Raumfahrtforschung" formed, in order to represent the interests of the research and industry. At the same time one recognized in Germany also, in order as partners in the ELDO and ESRO to be seriously taken, also its own national space research program would drive through must. Thus the industry and the research were requested to make proposals for appropriate projects which should not be however by any means copies of appropriate western and eastern projects. One of these projects was " the project; 621" the company Dornier, which planned a restorable elevator research rocket with hydraulic drive. This rocket should drive out at the peak point in 80 kilometers height a " Rogallo" - wing, similarly the today's glider kites, at which it should return then to the earth. As soon as the missile had a height of under 40 kilometers, it should be controllable over the fins attached at the tail and return in spirals to the ground. One obviously thought with the development - in contrast to " Herrmann Oberth society e.V." and " Berthold Seliger research and development company mbH" , those at the same time rocket attempts in the cotton wool area of Cuxhaven accomplishing also to an employment in the inland and considered all conventional regulations of the air traffic control with the reconducting course. At the end of of 1963 Bölkow company came to the space-technical group of the company Heinkel with its own proposal in form of a rocket, which should be led back at executable rigid wings. It should correspond in its dimensions and flight data in for instance the rocket suggested by Dornier, only it should an automatic approach on a Markierungssender would drive through and then at a parachute to land. Both proposals had its pro and cons and decided thus one both versions as for a long time as possible to promote. Besides still by the companies Bülkow and dynamite Nobel on suggestion of Meteoroligist also the possibility were " at that time; destroyable Raketen" examined. By this one understands rockets, which should be divided through into the rocket body trained Sprengfolien after mission into small fragments, which injure persons during the fall neither nor can damage real values. However this project because of immense difficulties, since the metal nozzles of the rockets did not let themselves divide surely into innocuous fragments, soon were given up. Besides existed still another proposal of the company Bülkow, who " a conventional meteorological rocket on basis of the engine developed on behalf the German Federal Armed Forces; P250" , but had this no chance for realization planned. Remarkable is however that " Berthold Seliger research and development society mbH" developed such a rocket in 1963 and presented it on December 19th, 1963 to representatives of non--NATO military in the cotton wool area of Cuxhaven. This rocket was started at this demonstration only with decreased propellant, would have been delivered it however by the pay load ability and by the ceiling when starting with full propellant a good meteorological rocket, which was even guidable even in contrast to most other models and would have been also surely affordable with a price of 1000 Marks per equipment (price base 1963). But one wanted to of it probably know at the companies Dornier and Bülkow not much and continued to research at the rockets with retrectable wings. 1964 was " also the available financial means more scarcely, because of the rocket demonstration; Berthold Seliger research and Entwicklungsesellschaft mbH" before not NATO Millitärs the picture in the German society had changed to the disadvantage of the rockets. One was afraid that civilian rocket designs could be used sometime militarily, which an offence against allied right would represent and in the time of the cold war perhaps large problems would have brought. Thus it came that the work on both projects preceded only sluggishly. By the rigid wing version of the company Bülkow it is to be reported that to 29.6.1965 a drop test on the troop exercise area in mutton castle took place. It does not seem to have been very successful, because the project was completely stopped shortly thereafter. At the Paragliderversion the company Dornier ran testing more favorably. 1965 was accomplished 15 release test on the Italian rocket test area Salto di Quirra. Although here a missile, the planned goals could be achieved. The calculated values agreed with the measured. To rocket flight attempts it came in addition, with the project of the company Dornier not, because on the one hand a textile wing would not have survived the reentry into the terrestrial atmosphere. One would have had to use fabrics made of high-grade steel, which can be folded up however because of their high Knitterempfindlichkeit only with difficulty. Also the approach flight was many more with difficulty feasible than meant: with simulator attempts it turned out that it a geübten Pilotens required, around which missile succeeds to the earth to bring back and this at all only if the nose bullet is not missing. Since however many measurements require the direct contact of the measuring instruments with the surrounded medium, was this impraktikabel. Furthermore still another suitable rocket motor and a suitable place were missing around the reliability of the system with 100 error free takeoffs and landings to guarantee, before of an employment in Central Europe was to be thought. Under this technical difficulties, which moved the employment of the system ever more into the temporal distance, the interest in this rocket disappeared and also from national side because of mentioned above the danger of the military use of rocket systems hardly still another support of the project in financial or other regard (for example for a flight testing over the North Sea) took place there, the project 1969 was adjusted with ever more potential users of the system. But there were still further studies for meteorological rockets in Germany in the 60's: thus by the company Dynamit Nobel was presented 1969 a study for a destroyable two-stage rocket, which develops on the technology of the destroyable measuring rocket GM12 developed by the PLASTIC-TECHNICAL ASSOCIATION FOR STUDIES (KTS) in Bonn Beuel. The GM12 was 1,85Meter long, had a diameter of 11.6 centimeters and a takeoff weight of 23 kilograms. It could reach a height of 12 kilometers. By explosive charges at both ends of the housing and through into the combustion chamber trained point charges this rocket was divided after flight into small, harmless fragments. The rocket for a ceiling of 80 kilometers, suggested by dynamite Nobel, should consist a diameter of 11,6Zentimeter and the second stage with one of 7 centimeters of two stages, a first stage with. Both stages should be laid out as destroyable rockets. However still further versions of destroyable sounding rockets in this study were suggested. Since with the users no interest in a destroyable rocket existed, it remained with studies. 1971 were again taken up the idea existing rocket motors for the building of a economical meteorological research rocket to use, " on basis of the artillery rocket; LAR". This rocket has a diameter of 11 centimeters and is equipped in the employment use with a 17,5kg heavy warhead. First a two-stage configuration became, with the then available engines the DT14 (LARS II) with 5 kilograms of pay load of only 60 kilometers height furnished. With the further developed engines of the type LARS III would be determines the desired 80 kilometers possible been, but was not certain at that time whether these were ever built and so became decided on the basis of the existing engines to continue working and a rocket examine, their first stage of three bundled LARs consists and uses as second stage the individual LARs. It was interesting that in the first stage not simply only three rocket motors were bundled. Rather their combustion chambers were provided among themselves with pressure balance pipes, in order to obtain a calmer burn-up. First it was valid to find out whether the second stage with the veringerten pay load flies at all stably. The first starting attempt in the Meldorfer bay failed: into consequence one when the assembling of vergessnen lockwire at a circlip, which held the nozzle to the engine housing with, knocked the rocket a strongly curved flight path and broke on a 50 meter of the starting place removed heaps of brushwood open, which she set in fire. A repetition of the starting attempt in Surendorf in April 1972 succeeded however. However the first flight test of the first stage with an upper stage mockup of the jack-up drilling platform failed " Barbara" in the North Sea. The attachments of the engines separated shortly after the start and each rocket including the upper stage mockup flew to another direction. Thereupon the project, which began quite quite promisingly, was stopped. Besides also still rather unorthodox procedures for the start were examined by meteorological rockets: thus one studied 1962 the possibility small research rockets of the trainer aircraft Potez Heinkel CM191 Magister in the shoulder throw to start. Since it is very heavy however to find the correct discharging point for the start of the rocket this idea was not continued to pursue. Mr. professor Ehmert of Institut of Forschungsinstitut for jet engines of the University of Stuttgart developed in the middle of the 60's a hot water rocket with a length of 2 meters and a diameter of 114 millimeters, which should serve a meteorological rocket as first stage. This rocket was tested 1965 statically and 1966 in the flight. Although these tests ran very satisfyingly, the project was stopped by sudden death by professor Ehmert in the year 1966. A further unorthodox proposal was " Papierrakete" the students K. and Vth Brandtl. Their rocket existed to assume like the name leaves of paper for the cell with water glass soaked newsprint was used, which made the cell printing and fireproof. As propellant charge soaked newsprint served in as fuze a glowing wire was trained with Natriumnitrat. The nozzle was manufactured from wood. This sounds itself on the first view strangely, but is wood, particularly oakwood, a thermally extraordinarily steadfast material with good thermal insulation characteristics, which was superior to all at that time well-known plastic products. Their attempt rocket with the K. and Vth Brandtl 1969 the price for "Jugend forscht" , were long 80 centimeters won, had a diameter of 5.5 centimeters and a takeoff weight of 1kg. It is to have reached a height of 8 kilometers with a takeoff thrust of 65kN. While your study resumed K. and Vth Brandtl their work on the paper rocket and here of the DFVLR were supported. A paper rocket was suggested to build, which should carry 4kg in 80 kilometers height, which should use further a propellant charge, which should exist soaked paper out with Natriumnitrat. As housings by machine manufactured laminated paper cases should be used. The nozzle should be manufactured however from graphite and the engine final catch from glass fiber fabric. Both the nozzle and the engine final catch should be bonded into the laminated paper body. The finished rocket should have a length of 3.63 meters and a diameter of 24 centimeters. With fuel the missile 61,5Kilogramm should weigh. The intended burning duration was with 21.7 seconds very long and there the rocket with 3,6G over a starting acceleration very small for meteorological rockets ordered, would be very wind sensitive it in the first flight phase. A further problem resulted that it was hardly possible shoes to the rocket body to attach, so that one considered the missile into shaped parts from hard aerated plastic packed firing from a pipe whereby then these foam pads should drop then after leaving the pipe laterally. A large problem prepared also the firmness of the adhesive binding of the rocket housing with the engine final catch from GRP, which was far less firm, as if expected. But if this problem had been even solved, it would have been possible only with zero wind to start this rocket which would have meant a strong restriction of its applicability for a meteorological rocket. Thus it remained with the building of demonstration and study models. Summa summarum seen is it already amazingly that it did not succeed to many considerable German companies and institutions, what the 1961 from " Herrmann Oberth society e.V." come out " Berthold Seliger research and development company mbH" already 1963 very well achieved the building of a German meteorological rocket!

Source: " Meteorological rockets in Deutschland" of H. - U. Widdel editedin the publications series of the German space spacecraft exhibition.

Launches of Polish and Russian rockets in the former GDR Edit

At the end of the 60's the weather service of the GDR began to be interested in the use of rockets for meteorological research purposes. Therefore by the weather service of the GDR at that time 5 Polish rockets of the type were " Meteor 1" (Maximum altitude 35 km) were bought and launched from the NVA exercise area Zingst. But this rocket type was not longer available for further launches after 1971. Thereupon one began with the self-development of rockets. Different models were developed and tested, from those however none could reaches heights of more than 3 kilometer. First in the second half of the 80's was to be thought again in the GDR of the start from meteorological rockets, when in the context of the intercosmos program Russian MMR06-M rockets with a flight altitude of 80 kilometers. For the start of these rockets on the NVA exercise area Zingst a launching pad was set up, from which on 21.10.1988 the first start took place. Although this flight, as the six next were no success was, because the parachute of the measuring probe did not come up, one began in April 1989 with the regular sounding.

The rocket MMR06-M Edit

The rocket MMR06-M is an unguided solid-propellant rocket with a takeoff weight of 121,8 kilograms (about which 78 kilograms on the fuel decrease/go back). It consists of two parts: the booster stage with the fuel and the Dart with the pay load. Shortly after burnout into 5 kilometers height the Dart from the booster stage is separated. It rises in consequence of its particularly favorable aerodynamic form (cW-value = 0.15) at a value of up to 80 kilometers, while the booster stage with its cW-value of 0,42 only a height of 35 kilometers reaches. At the peak point of the flight path from the Dart the measuring probe is discharged, which lands at a parachute. It contains a telemetry transmitter for transmission the air temperature, which is resisted measured during the descent of the probe at the parachute by temperature-sensitive and a transponder, which radiates a reply pulse on the signal of the ground station, from whose running time the distance be determined can. Furthermore this transmitter makes possible also the bearing of the probe for the determination of the wind force and - for direction as a function of the height. The covering of the Darts and the booster stage fall after completion of the mission without brakes to ground.

Only less space available Edit

So that during the fall of the booster stage and the Darts no persons come to damage and no real values are damaged or destroyed, in front of the coast of the peninsula Zingst a sea-restricted area was set up for the launches, which was supervised by a boat of the Federal Border Police. This restricted area was relatively small. It measured 23.6 kilometers and crosswise to it 25.5 kilometers in firing direction. (The rockets were started toward northwest. Sighted the target lay 9.7 kilometers far away from the starting place). A fall of rocket and Dart outside of this area had to be avoided under all circumstances. For this reason it was necessary, the angle under that the rocket was started to specify with large care. It was only one tolerance of 2 degrees permissible. An error of 1 degree shifted the point of fall of the Darts 5 kilometers! Since the MMR06-M has no control system, the wind influence must be considered on the flight path of the starting rocket carefully. It is largest shortly after the start, if the speed of the missile is still relatively small. It was determined, in which one let several gas-filled balloons, whose flight path became to measure optically and by radar ascend during the last hour before the start of the rocket to too exactly firmly put times. From these values the exact firing angle was computed. Although with numerous rockets the parachute failed, none of the started rockets came down outside of the target area!

Realization Edit

As one can see from the starting list, until Decembers 1990 43 rockets were started, by which 13 successfully accomplished their mission. From December 1990 until February 1992 no rockets were started from Zingst, because one considered it necessarily the procedure for the determination of the correct firing angle, originating from GDR times, to determine again. A second starting series with 19 further rockets followed from February 1992 until April 1992. Although still functional rockets were present, no more firing could be accomplished after April 10th,.1992, since the German Federal Armed Forces gave up and without the assistance of the armed forces to no more for the necessary Sicheheitsmaßnahmen be provided could not its real estate properties in Zingst

Launches only locally known Edit

Although in the local press and the " Bild" - Newspaper for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on these rocket starts reports were printed, remained it in most parts of Germany very unknown. Even the leader of " Historical-technical Informationszentrums" in Peenemuende, which was active in the 70's on the former NVA exercise area Zingst as a major, these attempts were not well-known! Also it possibly gave studies toward end of the 80's also on the part of the Soviet Union to start in Zingst still larger rockets like the MR-100. For this it would also fit that apparent the American manufacturer Richard Coleman planned 1991 to build in Peenemuende a firing basis for satellite rockets! Was it animated by the history of this place connected with the Zingster rocket attempts to this consideration? Later one has nothing heard of this plan, over which one could read at that time even in “Spiegel” newspaper, nothing, but this shows that the location Germany is nevertheless not so bad probably… Remarkable is also that the German Federal Armed Forces gave up the Zingst site and not used this location for civil and military rocket experiments, without which also in times of peace no military would like to actually do completely, received. One could have started there perhaps also different small sounding rockets to research purposes and do also in Central Europe regularoly high altitude research in the ionosphere unattainable for balloons and satellites.


The theme “German Rocket engineering after 1945” is not only for rocket freaks, but also for people interested in conspiracy theories of interest. Unfortunately, it is not much attended.

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