Projects: SPACE


Space Missions

Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE and its Institutes have contributed to many different space missions. Our mission wall gives an overview.


DG DEFIS leads the activities of the European Commission in the field of defence industry and space. Since 2021, the Fraunhofer Institutes INT and IOSB have been advising DG DEFIS in a panel of experts on the development of strategic documents and roadmaps with the aim of strengthening European autonomy.

  • Support for cooperation between the Commission and research and industry stakeholders 
  • Promoting the exchange of experience and best practices 
  • Identification of synergies
  • Issuing opinions on specific issues 
  • Monitoring of industrial and political developments


The KSaRo (Small Satellite Roadmap) project, which was commissioned by the German Space Agency of the DLR (DLR RfA), aims to develop a roadmap for small satellite technologies in Germany up to the year 2030 and thus to sustainably improve the competitiveness of the German small satellite industry through funding programs coordinated by DLR RfA. The interdisciplinary project team consists of experts from the Fraunhofer Institutes EMI and INT as well as from our SPACE office.


Fraunhofer IST


Resource extraction on the moon: 


In collaboration with the Institute of Space Systems (IRAS) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer IST is working on a process for extracting pure elements from lunar regolith taking into account the conditions prevailing on the moon.


The ROXY (Regolith to Oxygen and Metals) process was invented by Airbus and has been developed since 2019 in cooperation between Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden, Airbus Defense and Space, and Boston University. It is an electrochemical process to extract high-purity oxygen from lunar regolith in an energy-efficient manner and without complicated gas-separation or purification systems. It has already been successfully tested on a laboratory scale. In a size- and weight-optimized form called MiniROXY, it has the ideal qualities for a lunar feasibility demonstration.


Project description PDF

Project presentation



MEFAM (MEtals FActory on the Moon)

A first step on the way to exploring the solar system is most likely the moon. The establishment of infrastructures and colonies on the moon requires the availability of oxygen and metal products. Lunar regolith is available almost everywhere in large quantities, easy to obtain and can be used to produce oxygen and metal products directly on the moon. A consortium of experts consisting of Airbus Defence and Space, Fraunhofer institutes, Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE as well as partners from research and industry want to develop a roadmap for the development of production capacities for metal products on the moon in the proposed MEFAM project. The focus is on the evaluation of use cases, technology evaluation and testing, the development of design concepts and the associated costs, scalability and optimization potentials.



The Fraunhofer Institutes INT and IAF and Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE, together with an international consortium of medium-sized space companies and start-ups, have won the 1.4 million euro tender for the preparatory study of an independent European satellite network.


Fraunhofer IOF


With the HYPERSPACE research project, researchers from Europe and Canada want to jointly create the basis for an intercontinental network for quantum communication. Within the framework of the project, the distribution of entangled photons via satellite will be investigated.

The research project is coordinated by Fraunhofer IOF in Jena.

Fraunhofer IWS


Experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS are developing one of the telescope's three main components, a retractable optical bench, for the European Space Agency's (ESA) ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics) mirror telescope. The highlight: Particularly efficient and resource-saving processes such as laser cladding and additive manufacturing are used in the production.

Fraunhofer EMI & Fraunhofer IOF


The LisR (Longwave Infrared sensing DemonstratoR) measuring instrument has been on board the ISS since February 2022. LisR measures the water requirements of agricultural crops and lays the foundation for a future satellite constellation that will make it possible to measure the land surface temperature of our Earth on a daily basis and thus optimize the use of water in agriculture.


Fraunhofer FHR


The TIRA space observation radar has two radar systems: a high-precision target tracking radar that can track objects in space and an imaging radar that produces high-resolution images with the support of the target tracking radar. A key core component of TIRA is its 34m antenna, which provides high sensitivity.


Fraunhofer FHR


The GESTRA (German Experimental Surveillance and Tracking Radar) space surveillance radar operates in the microwave range and explores the low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 300 to 3000 kilometers. The radar system can detect objects in space, such as satellites, spacecraft or space debris, and thus protect, for example, space systems or the International Space Station ISS from a collision with debris particles by providing timely warning.


Fraunhofer IOF


The ESA mission JUICE started on 14.04.23 with the goal to explore the icy moons of Jupiter. On board the spacecraft is the measuring instrument GALA, which was developed by Fraunhofer IOF and HENSOLDT Optronics. It will use laser pulses to measure the surface of the Earth-like moon Ganymede. GALA will be the first "deep space laser altimeter" to be deployed at a distance of approximately one billion km from Earth.


Virtual satellite

The Virtual Satellite provides a comprehensive overview of the space-specific competences of  Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE. 


Fraunhofer IOF

Entangled photon source

At Fraunhofer IOF, the prototype of an efficient and space-qualified entangled photon source for quantum communication was developed as part of a project funded by the European Space Agency. Special laser soldering and bonding technologies were used to fix the very sensitive alignment states of the optical components permanently and in a manner suitable for space travel.


Fraunhofer IIS


To protect biodiversity, Fraunhofer IIS and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) have joined forces in the GAIA-Sat-IoT project. The goal is to develop camera tags equipped with sensor-based AI and satellite-based IoT communication, which will be used for bird and wildlife tagging.


Fraunhofer IOF

James Webb

James Webb is the largest and most powerful space telescope to date and provides groundbreaking insights into our universe. To fulfill its research mission, there are a total of four instruments on board. Two of them were contributed (proportionally) by ESA. Of these, the "Mid InfraRed Instrument" (MIRI) is equipped with mirrors manufactured and coated at the Fraunhofer IOF in Jena.



ERNST is the first small satellite to support military tasks in Germany, developed by Fraunhofer EMI. It is intended to demonstrate the potential of this class of satellites for the Bundeswehr. Its main payload is an infrared camera for detecting rocket launches. Together with Fraunhofer IOSB, the data obtained will be used to demonstrate the detection concept and verify numerical simulations. Another payload is a beam detector from Fraunhofer INT.


Fraunhofer IOF


EnMAP is the first hyperspectral satellite developed and built in Germany. It analyzes our environment from space and is intended to make visible not only the consequences of climate change but also potential natural hazards. A total of eleven mirrors as well as various optical layers for telescope and spectrometer optics were manufactured for this purpose at the Fraunhofer IOF in Jena.


Fraunhofer ILT


The Franco-German satellite MERLIN shall be launched to study methane emissions on Earth. On board is a LIDAR laser system based on the Platform FULAS (Future Laser System) that works precisely under extreme operating conditions and even on the dark side of the earth lacking solar radiation. The technology for this and the FULAS Platform have been developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen.


On board the satellite are the Fraunhofer On-Board Precessor from Fraunhofer IIS and the Radiation Sensor (FORS) from Fraunhofer INT. The FOBP developed at Fraunhofer IIS is able to process the data received on board the satellite before it is transmitted to Earth. It can also be reconfigured from Earth and thus adapted to new communication standards at any time. It therefore also serves as a test environment for new satellite communication systems.