SpaceUp Stuttgart 2016 is over and more than 100 participants had a great experience and making it Germany’s biggest space unconference!

Taking place in the perfectly matching Institute of Space Systems (IRS) on the Campus of the University of Stuttgart on a sunny Sunday the 17th of July, international participants with diverse backgrounds met to present their space projects or to discuss their opinions about space. For all participants, it was connected by the topic “Students meet Experts” and for 40 of them it was intended to be the introduction to a full week of hard work as participants of the “Space Station Design Workshop (SSDW)”. The IRS is hosting the annual SSDW to train teams of students and young professionals how to work together for a pre-phase0 study about a designing a possible International Space Station successor.

So the SpaceUp Stuttgart unconference was the kick-off event for the SSDW students who came from various places around the globe like South Africa, France, the USA, Denmark and many more countries. By mingling them with further professional and space-enthusiastic participants it created a great community spirit that also led to great talks.

The special aspect about unconferences is the absence of a fixed time-table of talks. The participants themselves are self-organizing it on location while the conference is running. The organizing team by the German Aerospace Society (DGLR) introduced the concept in the first talk of the day and provided guidance after the talks by Prof. Fasoulas and German ESA Astronaut Prof. Ewald. After these talks about Small Satellite as well as other projects at the IRS and the future of human space flight, the time-table was filling with sticky-notes fastly. On these sticky notes, talks by experts and students alike appeared. The open-data philosophy of ESA Copernicus’ Sentinel earth-observation satellites was explained by Bianca Hörsch and it fascinated the delegate from the Machine Learning User Group Stuttgart (MLUGS) who was interested to apply his algorithms on the available and free Big-Data. Jürgen Schlutz by DLR presented next steps in human space flights and possible solutions to achieve it and he left the stage for Thorsten Vogel from Airbus DS presenting one of these candidates with Digital Engineering that means 3D-printing in space.

After these key-note-like longer talks and the obligatory group photo, the participants took over and presented their topics in 3 halls. The auditorium in the halls were packed and the people got involved in discussions about small ROACH like robots doing maintenance on satellites from KSat Stuttgart, the technical challenges of a Space Elevator and other projects by WARR from Munich or the pros and cons of a hybrid rocket engine and how it does behave in a Swedish winter illustrative explained by HyEnD Stuttgart.

One hall was dedicated just for talks with durations of less than 5 Minutes. Participants there had the difficult task to put a complex topic in a nutshell. Would you have known how the Internet-of-Things can help setting up a Distributed Ground Station Network to track cubesat faster and cheaper than those tracking networks by agencies and NORAD? Did you know that South-Africa (together with Australia) is building the largest and best radio telescope that got his name from the Square Kilometer Array shape it has? Or that there are people who cannot get enough space after working their day job at TESAT and voluntarily take care of school kids in the Aerospace-Lab Herrenberg while they are building real can-sats from scratch?

These talks also influenced participants to present freestyle talks without having slides prepared. That nicely demonstrated the essence of a great space unconference where everybody is a participant and can have an impact.

Many more talks were given and the participants got the chance to fly real docking maneuvers with the Soyuz Simulator to the virtual International Space Station during the coffee breaks. The unconference finished exactly on time. The unconference culminated in a local Stuttgart brewery with students and experts relaxing. More than 100 people came to SpaceUp Stuttgart 2016, 40 stayed even longer for one week. All of them shared a special day in their lives they won’t forget! And they will stay in contact with each other.

How awesome is this space future!


  • SpaceUp Stuttgart 2016, 17. July 2016
  • a one-day space unconference at the Institute of Space Systems (Uni Stutgart). Kick-Off event to the Space Station Design Workshop (SSDW)
  • “Students meet Experts”
  • more than 100 participants from 30 countries. 40 participants from SSDW who stayed afterwards for one week and design a possible ISS successor
  • >30 talks in 3 halls. including talks from a German ESA-Astronaut, 3 space agency representatives, 4 student teams and many more experts and future experts…
  • more information on
  • organized by DGLR Stuttgart and SSDW/IRS teams

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