Researching Inner and Outer Space

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 5:55am
Twenty years after the first human traveled into space, the U.S. space agency NASA's shuttle fleet established itself with the launch of Columbia on April 12, 1981. For 30 years, in 135 missions, the U.S. Space Shuttle Program brought 356 astronauts from a total of 16 countries, among them seven Germans, into space. Marking the end of an era, the last shuttle, Atlantis, returned from its final voyage on July 21, 2011.

The development of space flight and the International Space Station (ISS), the largest outpost of humanity in space, supports research benefiting the fields of medicine, agriculture, mechanical engineering, earth observation, and climate control. According to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), German scientists have accomplished numerous experiments, such as the investigation of the human equilibrium system, the breeding of protein crystals, and basic physics (plasma research) onboard the ISS.

For this issue of E-NNOVATION Germany, we interviewed Reinhold Ewald, who, in 1997, spent 19 days aboard the MIR Space Station. He was involved in life science experiments, where he underwent strict metabolic control to discover how the human body stores sodium under specific conditions. Today, as operations manager at the Columbus Control Center, the facility responsible for communications between the astronauts and ground crew of 75 scientists and engineers who supervise European activities on the ISS, he continues to be involved in research stemming from the original work he conducted in space 14 years ago.


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