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Chemistry Solving the Problems of Space Exploration - Join the Sustainable Exploration Challenge

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany together with Airbus drives the future of space exploration by sponsoring an innovation competition within the ESA Space Exploration Masters. One hands-on application: The development of coating materials and additives to enable in-space manufacturing. Take your chance and apply by September 8, 2017.

We have always had a special relationship with space. More than half a century ago, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany developed the medical substance Oxymetazolin, which was the key component of a nasal spray used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. This very nasal spray was not only utilized by NASA but also commercialized under the name Nasivin.

As a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science, and performance materials, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany still enables space missions today. For example, our performance materials make high tech solar panels for spacecraft possible.

In preparing for the future, Airbus and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany are taking a cross-industrial approach and are interested in your views. We want to work closely with startups, research spin-offs, and young companies. As one major step towards this goal, we are hosting the Sustainable Exploration Challenge, a part of the ESA Space Exploration Masters.

In regard to performance materials and sustainability, high-tech materials act as enablers for future space exploration missions. The key to sustainability is: bring as few materials as necessary, and use as many local resources as possible. For example, three hot button issues regarding performance materials are currently being researched:

  • In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) on the Moon or Mars: The use of additives and/or coatings could enable the use of local resources with enhanced characteristics in order to sustain human life on other planets.
  • In-Space Manufacturing: 3D-printing spacecraft in space, instead of building them on earth and then flying them to space, requires new high-tech materials, e.g. heat resistant coatings.
  • Utilizing organic photovoltaic (OPV) on Moon or Mars: OPV is a major step towards sustainable electricity provision on other planets: only the key ingredients would need to be transported from Earth and be printed locally.

We strongly encourage entrepreneurs in performance materials or any related fields to contribute to a new era of space discovery and take part in our Sustainable Exploration Challenge. We seek technological and business ideas that will close the sustainability loop of space exploration, utilizing chemical and biological processes. With this concept we would create a sustainable space environment and enable human life in space. We think this is a unique opportunity to link technology with business models in space and on earth.

Topic areas of the Sustainable Exploration Challenge by Airbus and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Great Opportunities for Young Businesses to Enter a Strong Cross-Industry Network

The winners will be honored at the Space Exploration Masters Awards Ceremony on November 16th, 2017, in Luxembourg. The three finalists will receive an integrated support package from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Airbus, which offers pitching opportunities at the venture business sectors from both companies, as well as application support for related Acceleration programs. The winner will receive a customized cross-industry expert workshop as well as an all-inclusive trip to the X-Innovation Summit 2017. You will have the chance to develop your product and accelerate your business together with experienced professionals. The competition as a whole will allow entrepreneurs to get in contact with experts in the field of aerospace as well as in healthcare, life sciences, and performance materials.

Innovators, it’s time for space! Apply for the Sustainable Exploration Challenge by September 8, 2017, and take the chance to shape the future together with us. Find out more information and apply here.