Digitization in the Space Sector – from Hardware to Software

Friday 5 October 2018, 13:45 – 14:45

Location: Bremen Conference Center – DLR Hall


Our modern societies are undergoing a fundamental transformation of our life-styles that is largely based on a technological revolution from analogue to digital processes – commonly referred to as digitization. This development where information and communication technology is enabling simplified, streamlined, fast and connected products is also increasingly affecting the space sector that traditionally has a large part of high-technology manufactured products relying on robust hardware. In the last years however, research has also lend an eye to this new development and started to see the benefits of its application. New companies have entered the space market and gained success using methods and products of a digitized world.

The overall trend of digitization is thus manifesting itself in the space sector – upstream and downstream. In the upstream sector, rocket and satellite manufacturing is being streamlined and new technologies as wireless communication is replacing cables to simplify the handling of the satellite and reducing its weight. But also in the downstream sector digitization is bringing new benefits to customers and challenges to developers: multi-temporal global earth observation, real time observation, independent exploration missions through machine-learning, or citizen sciences go in hand with the challenge to manage, analyze and process large and heterogeneous amounts of data. Institutions such as ESA have picked up this topic, coined it “Space 4.0” and put it on the agenda. In Germany, an initiative from companies, universities and research institutes have brought forward a paper this year “Departure for Space 4.0: Software Defined Satellite” which highlights the increasing relevance of software in the space domain.

Thus the need for an even greater adaption of the whole sector is required. This panel seeks to bring attention to this fundamental development, map challenges, explore solutions and discuss the necessity for a software strategy in the space sector that would allow to make future space missions more secure, more flexible and cheaper.

Organized by:
German Aerospace Center (DLR)


Antonio Martelo

Head of the Department of CEF,

German Aerospace Center (DLR),







Frank Dannemann

Head of the Department of Avionics Systems,

German Aerospace Center (DLR),





Full Bio

Dr. Frank Dannemann is the head of the Department of Avionics Systems at the DLR Institute of Space Systems. He is holding a Diploma in Physics and a PhD in Computer Science. He has over 15 years of software engineering experience in the space sector and is DLRs representative in the ESA SAVOIR initiative. His research focus is on model-based, scalable and intelligent avionics architectures for future space systems.



Dietmar Ratzsch

President and CEO,

Jena-Optronik GmbH,




Full Bio

born on June 27th, 1958 in Wurzen (Germany), studied at Technical University in Dresden in the field “Technical Cybernetics and Control Engineering“ and graduated in Information Technology.

He is President and CEO of the space company Jena-Optronik GmbH since 2002. He achieved the development of the Thuringian space company to a globally leading supplier and a very reliable, respected partner for the major space companies and space agencies.

Furthermore he is a member of different associations of German space industry, e.g.:  Forum “Space” and working group “Space” of the German Aerospace Industries Association; Representative of the industry as appointed member of the program committee “Earth Observation” of German Aerospace Centre DLR; Board Member of “Competence Centre for Aerospace Saxony/Thuringia”.



Robert Axmann

Head of DLR Program Strategy, Executive Board Divison Space Research and Technology & Acting Director Institute of Data Science,

German Aerospace Center (DLR),



Full Bio

Dr. Robert Axmann is the Head of DLR Program Strategy Space and acting Director of the DLR Institute of Data Science. He holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering of TU Munich as well as an MBA of FU Hagen and is working since more than 15 years for DLR in areas like satellite operations, strategy development space and data science. As the head of DLR Program Strategy Space he is responsible for the development of the research strategy together with the involved DLR institutes and the members of the board.


Christina Giannopapa

Head of Political Affairs,

European Space Agency (ESA),





Full Bio

Dr. Christina Giannopapa is the Head of Political Affairs Office in the Strategy Department of the Director General’s Services of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Paris. She is responsible for providing advice and support on political matters to the Director General. From 2012 to 2015 she has been working on Member States Relations Department of ESA. From 2010 to 2012 she has been seconded from the Agency as Resident Fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna, where she has been supporting the European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC) and lead studies on innovation, Galileo, Copernicus and Africa. In the policy areas she also worked briefly in DG Research, European Commission. From 2007 to 2010, she has been working in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Technical and Quality Management Directorate of ESA in the Netherlands. Prior to joining ESA she has worked as a consultant to high-tech industries in research and technology development. She held positions in academia in Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands and in the University of London, UK. She has received 14 academic scholarships and awards and has more than 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. She holds a PhD in Engineering and Applied Mathematics; an MEng in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Mechatronics; and an MBA in International Management from the University of London, UK. Additionally, she holds an assistant professor position in the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology. She is the chairperson is the chairperson of the Committee for Liaison with International Organisations and Developing Nations (CLIODN) of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and Director for Professional Development of the Women in Aerospace Europe.