The Future of Travel: From Road Transport to Spaceflight

From self-driving buses for commuters and vacation travel on board hydrogen airplanes to environmentally friendly liquid propellant-fueling spaceflight: We want to use new technologies and innovative concepts to help make the aeronautics, space, and transport sectors more sustainable, efficient, and digital. Our vision is a climate-neutral, intelligently interconnected system that forms the basis of a global economy.

Society is on the threshold of major technological advancements, whether zero-emission flight, robots exploring distant planets, or autonomous, intelligent systems that allow means of transport to communicate. Through our research, we are helping to develop these technologies and put them into operation.

Our programs in the aeronautics, space, and transport research field address the key technological challenges of our time: Climate change, sustainable drive technologies in the mobility sector, and the digitalization of production processes. Building expertise on these subjects means safeguarding long-term prosperity.

The research field is divided into three programs, which connect fundamental research with practical applications all the way through to market readiness. In the aeronautics program, we do everything we can to develop air transport so that it is safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly – and to digitalize all aspects of aviation. The scientists involved in the space program carry out research that goes beyond the origins of the planets, solar system, and universe. They also make available important infrastructure for modern life on Earth, including technology for communication, navigation, and Earth and climate monitoring. We work closely with the Earth and Environment research field, especially when it comes to studying the atmosphere. In the transport program, we develop new approaches and innovative solutions for a transport system that is fit for the future and will benefit business, society, and the environment in equal measure.

These three programs are linked by the cross-sectoral issue of digital transformation – a thread that runs through all areas. In conjunction with the Information research field, our scientists make use of advances like quantum technologies and artificial intelligence methods to support their research. As a new spin-off strategy, the Innovation Hub aims to strengthen technology transfer and ready technological advances for real-world application.

Within the Helmholtz Association, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) manages all three programs and thus the entire system chain from fundamental research through to application. The DLR cooperates with more than 400 partner organizations in over 60 states on various projects.

Aeronautics, Space, and Transport Research Field Factsheet

The Aeronautics, Space, and Transport research field creates the conditions needed for practical applications in order to make more sustainable, more efficient, and better-connected mobility a reality on land, on water, and in the air.

Our work always takes account of the major technological challenges of our time, such as climate change and the shift toward a sustainable transport system.

Our researchers make important infrastructure available, including technology to support satellite-based communications and navigation as well as Earth and climate monitoring.

In addition to fundamental research, they successfully transfer their findings to practical applications and develop products through to market readiness.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) oversees the implementation of all three programs. It cooperates with more than 400 partner organizations in over 60 countries.


Three research programs:

  • Aeronautics
  • Space
  • Transport

Links to other research fields

  • Energy
  • Earth and Environment
  • Information
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