1. Where do you see the aerospace industry in 2050, which technologies that are not commonly used today will we take for granted in the future?
Well, presumably humans will have landed on Mars, and there will be a significant number of small satellites orbiting the Earth in space.
In the future, machines and systems controlled from space will be much more commonplace than they are today. Whether it’s agricultural machines that work on the fields remotely or power plants for the use of renewable energies. Their operation can be directly adapted to the observation of weather and wind speeds as well as to the monitoring of other environmental influences. Whether we will actually send energy from space to Earth on a large scale via “power beaming” using microwave technology, as in the Solaris project, for example, is something I'm still skeptical about. For this, 2050 seems rather early to me.
By then, however, space technologies will have advanced considerably. The mining of resources in space will play a strong role, for instance in the search for precious metals, rare earth metals or even helium-3.
At the same time, we will use the view of the Earth from space more naturally and intensively than we do today, because it illustrates the need for action.
2. How do we achieve the ambitious sustainability goals? What exactly are the drivers of change here?
The main driver here, just like in technology, is knowledge! Space technology helps us identify problems on Earth and take necessary countermeasures.
For example, it is only possible to determine the concentration of methane gas in the atmosphere, to measure sea surface temperature, salinity and sea ice concentration, or even to quantify deforestation in the Amazon by using data from space. There are countless examples of climate indicators that can only be monitored from space. Working on the MERLIN and CIMR projects, to name two current examples, our company, von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH, is actively contributing to this effort.
In order to tackle a problem, you must recognise it, and this is precisely why space technology is irreplaceable.
3. Was there any development in the industry, that has moved you recently? Which one?
In times of strong political tension following the Russian war of aggression against the Ukraine, I was personally moved when an astronaut and two cosmonauts left for the ISS on a Soyuz launch vehicle at the end of September. There, they will spend the coming weeks together with other space travelers. They are a symbol of peaceful cooperation and unity that one would certainly also wish for on Earth in these times.