Activities at European level

At European level, nanotechnology is so far understood by the space community similar to the German viewpoint, rather as a long-term subordinated topic of the micro system technology. The past quite extensive activities of the ESA aiming at the miniaturization of space systems, which is regarded as one of the priority goals within the space community, are to be assigned so far almost exclusively to the micro system technology range. Since 1995 the ESTEC organized three round-table meetings on "Micro/Nano Technologies for space", dealing with applications of the micro- (only partly nano-) technologies for space components and systems in the range of communication, energy production and storage, propulsion and scientific payload (ESTEC 1995, ESTEC 1997, ESTEC 2000). After the first phase of the MST activities performed by the ESA until the end of the 90's, where knowledge diffusion and first development steps were the main objectives, the demonstration and utilization of the MST in space shall be the primary goal in the next phase starting from 2001 (see Manhart 2001).

In the AURORA programme of the ESA, which aims at developing a long-term strategy for the exploration of the solar system with manned and unmanned missions, nanotechnology however will have a stronger impact. This applies in particular to the range of material technologies, e.g. the evaluation of nanocrystalline materials, nanocomposites as well as biomimetic self-healing materials. Appropriate roadmaps and technological requirements for space aplications are in development at present.18 A German participation in the AURORA programme however is not planned at present.

MST activities of ESA

AURORA programme of ESA at present without German participation

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