11 April 2018 - Over 80 invited guests from industry, science and consulting followed the invitation of TUM International, the consultancy maexpartners and Munich Aerospace to attend the first Munich Aerospace Summit at Ludwig Bölkow Campus on April 11. Contributions by TUM President Professor Wolfgang Herrmann, Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke, SpaceX Vice President Torsten Pilz, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) Professor Marion Weissenberger-Eibl and Munich Aerospace Member's representative Professor Mirko Hornung of Bauhaus Luftfahrt provided information on current challenges in the aerospace sector.
The challenges include an increase in global air traffic, a demand for individual air transport and a need to meet the increasing demands of logistics and infrastructure. These aspects also need to be reconciled with environmental sustainability, particularly a reduction in CO2 emissions, nitrogen emissions and aircraft noise. This would include new forms of propulsion and innovative technologies. Digitisation is also considered to play a prominent role in all areas.
The evening ended with the festive conferring of the Munich Aerospace Award to former Munich Aerospace Scholarship Recipient Dr Rainer Matthias Rieck. The award is endowed with 10,000 euros and was donated by maexpartners to honour an outstanding doctoral thesis in the aerospace field.
The success story of SpaceX
Which factors are decisive for the innovation success of aerospace companies as well as for the solving of these tasks were introduced by Torsten Pilz, Vice President Operations/Supply Chain at SpaceX. According to Mr. Pilz, manufacturing systems, an agile supply chain and concurrent engineering lead to the desired success, but a company's management style is just as relevant. Company values and culture are especially important. At SpaceX, for example, the focus is on fulfilling the mission to make humankind an interplanetary specials.
Established in 2002 well before the Tesla automotive group founded by Elon Musk, Mr. Pilz is certain that SpaceX has much in its favor. The company with its almost 6,000 employees has successfully completed 51 space missions. In them, 23 boosters of the "Falcon 9" rocket were successfully landed and eleven have already been reused at least once. SpaceX introduced "Falcon Heavy", the most powerful operational rocket by a factor of 2 ever built. One of the company's important objectives is reusability. SpaceX expects to be able to reuse the "Falcon 9" rocket up to ten times without overhaul and can be available for an additional 100 flights in future with moderate preparation. In 2022, SpaceX will have the opportunity to launch the first freight transport to Mars. SpaceX will debut the next rocket generation "BFR" built specifically for the mission. The first manned rocket could lift off for its journey to the planet two years later.
Social responsibilities as a driver of development
"Aviation is more fascinating to the public than any other industry," emphasised Professor Marion Weissenberger-Eibl, head of the Fraunhofer System and Innovation Research Institute and holder of the chair of Innovation and Technology Management (iTM) at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). She has noted critical voices in society, however, in regard to ecological aspects. In this respect, what is needed is a new focus in aviation innovation that accounts for the world's challenges such as the climate, urbanization and an aging society. While in the past the aim was on greater capacity and range, the goal today is on finding solutions for the areas of security, CO2 reduction and autonomous flight. She thinks it is time to take a new approach since innovation focuses on the mission and not solely on technological development. "I consider start-ups to be true sources of ideas and recommend that they cooperate with the leading companies in the industry."
Challenges for Airbus and SpaceX
In the evening, a fireside chat and discussion featured Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, and SpaceX Vice President Torsten Pilz. Mr. Hoke sees the digital transformation as a major challenge that is not necessarily part of his company's DNA and still requires quite a lot of effort at persuasion. At SpaceX, according to Mr. Pilz, it is the primarily younger contingent of workers who have a high affinity for all things digital. In this context, agility, speed, new approaches to problem solving, a willingness to take risks and the maintaining of the corporate culture are important for continuous growth. Both companies are on the brink of the major task of industrialisation of smaller communications satellites in large numbers. While Airbus hopes to produce 900 in a first tranche and send them into space, SpaceX envisions a much higher number over the next few years. These satellites are to serve a new generation for data reception and thus make it possible to set up a broadband network. "A new and exciting time in aerospace is imminent and I am looking forward to it," Mr. Pilz emphasised.
Munich Aerospace Award goes to Rainer Matthias Rieck
The evening ended with the festive conferring of the Munich Aerospace Award donated by maexpartners and endowed with 10,000 euros. Dr Rainer Matthias Rieck received the award for his application-oriented dissertation entitled "Discrete Control and Constraints in Optimal Control Problems". In his doctoral thesis for which he received special honors, the young scientist presents highly efficient algorithms and excellent software engineering. According to maexpartners' Managing Director, Mr. Pohle, "this paper provides stimuli as important as the contributions to the first Munich Aerospace Summit for the aerospace industry."