NASA-DLR Accord Deepens German-American Space Cooperation


NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Chairman of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Executive Board Johann-Dietrich Worner signed a framework agreement for cooperative activities in aeronautics, exploration and the peaceful use of space Wednesday at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The agreement is intended to enhance cooperation between the two agencies during the next decade.

“NASA has a long history of successful cooperation with the government of Germany and an outstanding relationship with DLR,” Bolden said. “Today’s signing will further enhance our ability to work closely together in a variety of mutually beneficial activities in virtually every NASA mission area.”

The agreement sets forth the general terms and conditions for cooperation on a range of activities related to human spaceflight, exploration, aeronautics, global climate change and Earth and space science.

“Many space missions and projects can only be carried out through international cooperation, for example, with NASA, because of their great complexity and the associated costs,” Worner said. “This is why DLR, as Germany’s national space agency and research center, is endeavoring to set up bilateral collaborations such as this.”

Bolden and Worner also signed an agreement making DLR a NASA Lunar Science Institute associate partner. The institute brings together scientists from around the world to conduct collaborative research in lunar science.


The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and NASA concluded a framework agreement for bilateral cooperation in Washington D.C. on 8 December 2010. The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden and DLR Executive Board Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner. The partners have also agreed to cooperate on lunar research, through the Lunar Science Institute Agreement.

“Many space missions and projects can only be carried out through international cooperation, with NASA for example, because of their complexity and the associated costs. This is why DLR, as Germany’s national Space Agency and research Center, is endeavouring to set up bilateral collaborations such as this, in addition to its other commitments,” explained Prof. Wörner. “Both DLR and other German facilities active in space research will benefit from this agreement. This includes universities and research institutions such as the Max Planck Society, as well as companies in the German aerospace industry that are supported by DLR in its role as Germany’s Space Agency through the national space programme,” Wörner added.

The DLR Chairman also expressed his satisfaction that, shortly after publication of the new German Space Strategy, one of the strategic goals set out in it – increasing international cooperation – has been brought to fruition.

The NASA-DLR framework agreement encompasses cooperation in all relevant aspects of aerospace research. In terms of space, the emphasis will be on Earth observation and conducting research in the space environment, as well as space operations and planetary research. The collaboration includes joint development of space transportation systems and research platforms, as well as the operation of sounding rockets and balloons.

Aeronautics research is particularly concerned with computer-based simulations and the climate impacts of aviation, for which coordinated operations and missions by research aircraft are planned. Close cooperation in the field of flight control systems with NASA’s Ames Research Center is foreseen. In addition, the agreement also covers the exchange of research staff and scientific data. There will also be even closer cooperation in encouraging the development of young researchers.

The new agreement also offers Germany the opportunity to continue successful developments of recent years, such as radar technology. This will include TanDEM-L, a potential follow-up mission to TanDEM-X, which will make a significant contribution to climate research by monitoring global biomass.

Under the leadership of DLR, the German Network for Lunar Science and Exploration, GNLSE, coordinates all activities in the field of lunar research undertaken by universities and industrial partners.  In the future, there will be close collaboration between German researchers and the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NLSI, to bring together their common expertise in planetary research, particularly lunar research. The focus will be on possibilities for exploring the Moon and concepts for creating infrastructure on the Moon, based on joint, comprehensive geological and physical lunar exploration.