Helmholtz Association
Der neue WhatsApp-Newsletter!

Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Mobility, information, communication, managing the resources as well as environment and security are decisive factors for the economic, ecological and social development of modern national economics.


The scientists involved in aeronautics, space and transport research address the major challenges of society in the fields of mobility, information systems, communication, resource management, the environment and safety.

ZoomDer Niedergeschwindigkeits-Windkanal in Braunschweig. Bild: DLR
Der Niedergeschwindigkeits-Windkanal in Braunschweig. Bild: DLR

The scientists involved in aeronautics, space and transport research address the major challenges facing our society in the fields of mobility, information systems, communication, resource management, the environment and safety. They develop concepts and solutions and provide advice for policymakers. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is Germany’s national centre for aeronautics and aerospace research. On behalf of the German government and in its capacity as the German space agency, the DLR is responsible for research within the framework of the national aerospace programme and for Germany’s contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Helmholtz DLR@UNI Alliance provides a framework for content-based partnerships between universities and selected DLR facilities throughout Germany. At the same time, the DLR works closely with other Helmholtz research centres, particularly in the two areas of energy research and Earth and environmental research.

Furthermore, it collaborates with the private sector, one example being the TAMS project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Together with Siemens and the various medium-sized companies involved in this project, the DLR has demonstrated how costs, emissions, noise and flight delays can be reduced by integrating ground and air-based systems at airports. Close cooperation with industry was also a cornerstone of the E-City Logistics project in the “model regions” of Berlin and Brandenburg. Supported by DHL and the Meyer & Meyer logistics company, this project focused on the pilot use of electric vehicles for urban delivery services.


In addition to the ever-evolving implementation of the previous research topics, the scientists in this research field will collaborate with industry on research projects devoted to aircraft simulation, next-generation rail-based vehicles and the development of robots. In mid-2011, the DLR established an internal maritime safety research group in order to pool and expand research at the various DLR institutes. The activities in this area are supported by a positively evaluated portfolio proposal “R&D and Real-Time Services for Maritime Safety” and are coordinated with the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Research Programmes


Goals of the programme are an increased capacity of the air transport system, greater cost-effectiveness, the reduction of aircraft noise and harmful emissions, the enhanced attractiveness for passengers and higher safety standards.

More details about Research Programme Aeronautics


The programme’s research topics include Earth observation, communications and navigation, space exploration, research under space conditions, space transport, space systems technology and robotics.

More details about Research Programme Space


The scientists in the transport programme aim to develop a modern transport system for people and goods that is sustainable over the long term from an economic, ecological and social perspective.

More details about Research Programme Transport

The Programmes in the Funding Period 2013-2018

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the only Helmholtz centre in the field of aeronautics, space and transport research.

Scientists conduct research and collaborate in the following three programmes:

Research Programmes


Scientists in DLR aeronautics research work on increasing the performance capability and economy of the air transport system, on reducing flight noise and harmful emissions and on guaranteeing safety. These goals are also targeted within the scope of European collaboration.

More details about Reserach Programme Aeronautics


Space research in Germany means R&D to provide direct benefits to the public and, simultaneously, inspiration for the future. In the Helmholtz programme Space, scientists observe the system earth, its processes and changes, they explore the solar system...

More details about Research Programme Space


The currently existing traffic system is largely overloaded and faces increasing difficulties absorbing the rising amount of traffic. This chronic overload increasingly jeopardises the competitiveness of the German and European economy...

More details about Research Programme Transport

Involved Helmholtz Centre

German Aerospace Centre

Insights into Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Here, we present projects currently being carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Centres.

Blut Dot: Alexander Gerst's Mission on the ISS

Alexander Gerst working on the BASS combustion experiment. Image: NASA: 2Explore

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who has been living and working on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 28 May 2014, has been charged with carrying out one hundred experiments in a variety of fields, from material physics and space medicine to biology. A total of 25 of these experiments will be conducted under the guidance of German scientists or with the participation of German industry. Gerst’s work is being supervised by the German Space Operations Center, operated by the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen, and by user control centres across Europe such as the DLR’s MUSC facility in Cologne.

A City Becomes a Transport Lab

Cooperative driving in the MoSAIC simulator. Image: DLR

An entire city, including all the routes that residents take in their everyday lives, has been transformed into a transport lab. In July 2014 the city of Braunschweig saw the launch of the DLR’s Application Platform for Intelligent Mobility (AIM). With the help of this platform, transport researchers and companies can develop and test new driver assistance technologies and efficient traffic management systems. The platform includes a research intersection, a sample stretch of road, various traffic simulators and vehicles that can be used to observe driver behaviour.

NASA and the DLR: Joint Research Flight Using Biofuel

Researchers and research aircraft participating in the ACCESS II project. Image: NASA

On joint test flights the US aerospace agency NASA, the DLR and the Canadian National Research Council (NRC) have investigated the emissions from a biofuel-kerosene mixture and the effects of this mixture on the formation and properties of condensation trails. Four research aircraft were involved in the tests conducted on May 2014 in California for the ACCESS II project. Initial analyses have shown that the use of biofuels substantially reduces particulate and soot emissions while also lowering the gaseous and particulate emissions from sulphur compounds.


Pascale Ehrenfreund 100x100 01

Prof. Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund

Research field coordinator Aeronautics, Space and Transport

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Postal address:
51170 Köln

Phone: +49 2203 601-4201
Fax: +49 2203 64190
pascale.ehrenfreund (at) dlr.de

Olaf Kranz

Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-31
olaf.kranz (at) helmholtz.de