Speaker Spotlight – Dr.-Ing. Christian Langenbach, DLR

Christian Space Tech Expo Europe is fast approaching, so the Space Tech Expo team has been catching up with the event’s panellists and keynote speakers to find out more about their roles and  their perspectives on developments in the global space industry.

This week’s speaker: Dr.-Ing. Christian Langenbach, special deputy for the investigation of trends of the space market and research at DLR.

Christian started his career as scientific staff at DLR, responsible for future launch systems in the agency’s Space Systems Analysis division. Following this position, he moved to the European Academy for the Assessment of Scientific and Technological Developments, where he was project manager.

He moved back to DLR in 2002, becoming group leader in the Department of International Cooperation. Christian also held the role of head of the executive office. Between 2011 and 2015, he was managing director and COO of spaceopal GmbH in Munich. He has been in his current position since 2015.

Hi Christian, could you please tell us about your role as special deputy for the investigation of trends of the space market and research at DLR?

I carry out research and data collection. I also conduct analysis for the developments of space markets, of the space industry as well as off-site space technology development and service capacity for space applications. Based on the identified relevant findings, I prepare recommendations for technology needs at different application fields in space R&D at DLR.


What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities you face at present?

Many new companies are proposing, planning, building and in some cases currently deploying new satellite services with a ‘swarm of tiny satellites’ and other LEO satellite constellations. Emplacing these satellites and/or replacing failed ones creates a large potential commercial market for space transportation systems, however the launch industry has to achieve lower launch cost and higher reliability and safety. The hope of reducing transportation costs is the main justification for investigating the challenging technical and economic issues today.


You will speak on the 'Bringing space closer to us: how advanced space transportation systems are changing exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond' panel. How will Europe develop in the next couple of years in relation to projects like the Deep Space Gateway?

First, thanks to the foresight of decision makers, Europe has developed a range of launchers to meet institutional and commercial needs. ESA and the European industry are currently developing a new-generation launcher: Ariane 6. To better serve institutional and commercial markets, Europe is also focusing on innovative technologies, investigating future launcher evolutions, demonstrating technical capabilities and preparing routine access to and from space.


You have been working on deep space technology for a long time – how can future spacetransportation systems benefit from technologies developed in the 80s and 90s?

The idea of a reusable space vehicle (RSV) is nothing new! In the past, several serious efforts to build some type of reusable vehicle reached the detailed design stage. It is clear that all these RSV development programmes have their differences, but also similarities. Today, we can gain the benefits from the enormous advances in materials, guidance and computer technology, and lesser (but still significant), the gains in propulsion.


Which current developments seem very promising to you for deep space exploration and why?

The focus is on the novel applications that are becoming viable as space technology improves: space tugs, satellite refueling, space mining and debris removal. If we can provide evidence that [the technology] will be reliable and save in LEO, it is a strong indication of the readiness of the required technologies for deep space exploration.


In terms of industry news, what development, announcement or otherwise has stood out most to you in the past year?

The focus is oriented towards technological preparation of a reusable launcher concept, based upon the following requirements:

  • All concepts have reusability as a central feature;
  • The concepts comprise staged systems with a vertical or horizontal take-off and landing mode; and,
  • Different propulsion concepts are used, including pure rocket propulsion or rocket and air-breathing propulsion for the first stage only.


We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Industry Forum at Space Tech Expo Europe. What are you most looking forward to at the show?

Space Tech Expo Europe provides a platform for a wide variety of presentations and offers business opportunities for participants at any stage.

 Christian will be speaking on the 'Bringing Space Closer to Us: How Advanced Space Transportation Systems are Changing Exploration of the Moon, Mars and Beyond' panel on Thursday, 26 October 2017 at the Industry Forum – register for your FREE pass here.