News Release

Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal awarded to Klaus Schilling

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Würzburg

Klaus Schilling With Satellites

image: Klaus Schilling with some of the small satellites developed by his team together with students. view more 

Credit: Dieter Ziegler / University of Wuerzburg

The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) selected Würzburg space expert Professor Klaus Schilling for the Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal 2023. This medal is a top award in the space sector for innovative research and for commitment to education.

According to a statement by the IAF, the medal is awarded each year to a personality who has provided outstanding services to space education and research. This applies to Professor Schilling without reservation: "He has provided numerous students with practical experience in satellite construction and has been involved in a wide range of space research projects," according to the IAF laudatio.

"Throughout his career, he dealt with guidance and control problems in aerospace, in interplanetary missions such as Cassini/Huygens or Rosetta as well as in small satellites and satellite formations," the IAF continues. "He has been instrumental in advancing the state of science. His enthusiasm for space enabled him to motivate students to extraordinary achievements, such as the UWE-1 and NetSat projects, and his very practical approach to involving students in exciting space research projects with tangible results and actual space satellite launches particularly distinguished him in his field."

UWE-1 was one of the first pico-satellites in the world; the NetSat project achieved the first formation flight with four nanosatellites in three dimensions.

Schilling established space studies at JMU

Klaus Schilling was head of the Chair of Computer Science VII (Robotics and Telematics) at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) from 2003 to 2022. 20 years ago, he gave the first space lectures at the University of Würzburg and started building miniature satellites.

Computer science was the right place for this, because the necessary miniaturisation increased the sensitivity to disturbances. These had to be corrected by appropriate software and control theory such  that the satellites operated reliably despite challenges from the harsh space environment .

The students' great interest in space topics led to the establishment of the international elite Master's programmes SpaceMaster and Satellite Technologies. Emphasis was placed  on practical implementation of the course content in satellite design projects. In this context Klaus Schilling established, by example, the successful University of Würzburg Experimental Satellite Programme UWE.

In the course of his career, Klaus Schilling has been strongly committed to international space cooperation, also within the IAF. There he was active for years in various professional committees , leading to recognition by the IAF Distinguished Service Award in 2018. The professor has received other prestigious awards, including the Eugen Sänger Medal of the German Aerospace Society in 2021.

Schilling will receive the Malina Medal at the 74th IAF International Astronautical Congress, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 2 to 6 October 2023.

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