Space travel: a driver of innovation

Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke and Director-General of the Deutsches Museum, Professor Wolfgang M. Heckl

Moon talk, astronauts and inventions at the Deutsches Museum

4 June 2019

The European Patent Office furthered its co-operation with the Deutsches Museum by playing a part in an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

The Museum's Director-General Professor Wolfgang M. Heckl hosted a "moon talk" on 1 June to commemorate this milestone in the history of space travel. In addition to a virtual reality simulation of the Apollo 11 moon landing, there was a panel discussion among Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke (Apollo 16 mission), astronaut Professor Ulrich Walter and the Minister President of Bavaria Dr Markus Söder. Charlie Duke encouraged the next generation in the audience to follow their dreams: "I continue to talk about my experiences of going into space because I believe that it's important to inspire the next generation. If I can encourage just one person here today to pursue their dreams in this area, then it will have been worth it".

In the museum foyer, the European Patent Office showed videos of major European inventors and their contributions to space travel technology:

  • One of a European team of inventors, Professor Günter Hein working on the Galileo project made it possible to send clear radio signals from space - a quantum leap for satellite navigation for which he and his team received the European Inventor Award in 2017.
  • Other inventions too have found their way from application in outer space to our homes. Take Mehrdad Mahdjoubi's shower using a closed loop: it uses 90% less water and 80% less energy than a conventional shower.
  • Advances in digital image processing technologies to survey the surface of the moon were made by NASA in preparation for the Apollo lunar landing. Professor Jens Frahm took this research to the next level by developing FLASH scanning technology. This in turn gave rise to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), now one of the most widely used diagnostic tools in medicine. Jens Frahm is another winner of the European Inventor Award (2018).

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