Ulrich Walter

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Ulrich Walter
Ulrich Walter
Country: GermanyGermany Germany
Organization: DLR
selected on 3rd August 1987
Calls: 1 space flight
Begin: April 26, 1993
Landing: May 6, 1993
Time in space: 9d 23h 40min
retired on May 1993
Space flights

Ulrich Hans Walter (born February 9, 1954 in Iserlohn ) is a German physicist , former science astronaut and science journalist and moderator . Since 2003 he has held the chair for space technology at the Technical University of Munich .

Education and academic background

Walter grew up in Iserlohn in the Sauerland . After four years of elementary school, he moved to the Märkisches Gymnasium in Iserlohn in 1964 . He successfully passed the Abitur examination in 1972 and then volunteered for military service . The last twelve months of his two years with the German Armed Forces were an instructor at the Army Air Defense School in Rendsburg ( Schleswig-Holstein ). He retired with the rank of lieutenant in the reserve.

In 1974 Walter began to study physics at the University of Cologne . After four semesters, he passed the intermediate diploma and finished his studies in experimental physics (specialization in solid state physics ) in 1980 . While he then worked as a research assistant with Dieter Wohlleben at the II. Physics Institute at the University of Cologne, he worked on his doctoral thesis (" Neutron Scattering on Intervalent Systems"). He received his PhD in 1985.

With the support of scholarships, Walter completed a two-year research stay in the United States to deepen his knowledge of solid-state physics. In the first year he was at the Materials Science and Technology Division of the Argonne National Laboratory , near Chicago ( Illinois hired). He then did research at the University of California at Berkeley until the summer of 1987 .

Astronaut activity

In August 1986, what was then the German Research and Research Institute for Aerospace (DFVLR) - the predecessor of today's German Aerospace Center  - on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Research published a list of scientific astronauts in all major daily newspapers for the second German Spacelab flight (D -2) wanted. A university degree in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine or engineering as well as several years of research was required. In addition, a doctorate in the areas mentioned was an advantage. A good general mental and physical condition as well as excellent knowledge of English combined with an age limit of 35 years were required.

1,799 national interested parties responded to the call, but only 40 percent of them met the required criteria. 312 applicants were shortlisted, of which 13 people (nine men and four women) remained after medical surveys (for hereditary diseases, allergies or ametropia), various knowledge and psychological tests and subsequent health tests (balance, circulation). A jury, which also included the three old astronauts Ulf Merbold , Reinhard Furrer and Ernst Messerschmid , finally selected the five candidates.

The then Research Minister Heinz Riesenhuber presented the five finalists to the public in August 1987. In addition to Walter, the teacher and meteorologist Renate Brümmer , the doctor Heike Walpot and the physicists Gerhard Thiele and Hans Schlegel strengthened the German astronaut corps .

The five space flight aspirants began in March 1988 at the DFVLR headquarters in Cologne with the actual astronaut training (the first “trial courses” had already been held beforehand, the group undertook its first parabolic flights in the USA at the end of 1987 ). In 1990, with the exception of Walpot, all of them were shortlisted as payload specialists for the second German Spacelab flight ( D-2 ). Since then, the four Germans have trained alternately in Cologne and in Huntsville at the Marshall Space Center and the Johnson Space Center in Houston . A year before the flight, the final choice fell on Walter and Schlegel. Walter's astronaut training cost 400,000 marks. During that time, his annual salary was 90,000 marks.

At the end of April 1993, the two German physicists and five US astronauts set off for Earth orbit aboard orbiter Columbia . Schlegel and Walter supervised around 90 experiments during the ten-day flight, most of them from the fields of biology and materials science. They worked in the European space laboratory Spacelab, which flew for the seventh time in the hold of a US space shuttle.

While Walter was a member of the German astronaut corps, he worked at two universities at the same time: He belonged to the "Neutron Scattering" working group at the University of Cologne and was head of the "Tunnel Spectroscopy" working group at the TH Darmstadt .

After the space flight

Walter during his lecture around the world in 90 minutes

After his flight, Walter left the German astronaut squad and headed the DLR satellite image archive in Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria , for four years . There he set up a German headquarters for satellite images in order to make them available to the general public. From 1998 he was Program Manager at IBM Germany and worked on digital media solutions, later he was a technical consultant in the development laboratory in Böblingen . Since March 2003 he has held the chair for space technology at the Technical University of Munich .


Walter has published more than sixty papers on space and space travel. He regularly writes columns and articles for magazines and between 1998 and 2003 he moderated the bi-weekly science program "MaxQ - Lust auf Wissen" on Bavarian television . For Welt he writes the column Knowledge creates something .

Walter is president of the Hermann Oberth Museum in Feucht, member of the board of trustees of the Deutsches Museum in Munich and of the science and technology center "x-world" in Freiburg . He has been awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, First Class and the Wernher von Braun Medal. He is also the school sponsor and namesake of the Ulrich Walter School, a private science and technology school in Stuttgart-Mitte.

Walter received an honorary doctorate from the National Technical University of Ukraine "Igor Sikorski" in 2012 and an honorary professorship from the Dragomanov National Pedagogical University, Ukraine. Since 2018 he has been a Consultant Professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China. He is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which is critical of religion, and of the board of trustees of the Deutsches Museum .

Walter describes himself as a “convinced religious Christian ” and considers this religion to be a “network” and “set of rules” that hold people together as meaningful and necessary; However , he does not share the idea of ​​a life after death and of God as an overpowering being who observes everything: "Everyone has to deal with that for himself."

Ulrich Walter is married, has two daughters and lives near Munich .

He is also a radio amateur with the callsign DG1KIM.


Walter has moderated the space documentary series Spacetime for WELT (formerly N24) since September 2016 .

See also


Web links

Commons : Ulrich Walter  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. A. Fichter, D. Sürig, H. Wilhelm: Astronauts are poor pigs. (No longer available online.) Süddeutsche Zeitung , July 17, 2009, archived from the original on August 20, 2009 ; Retrieved July 20, 2009 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sueddeutsche.de
  2. ^ The Board of Trustees of the Deutsches Museum Information about the Board of Trustees and the members can be found on the website www.deutsches-museum.de (German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology, Munich).
  3. ^ Announcement on honorary doctorate , website of the National Technical University of Ukraine "KPI", April 19, 2012, accessed on March 20, 2013.
  4. ^ Announcement on the honorary professorship, website of the Dragomanov National Pedagogical University, March 15, 2013, accessed on March 20, 2013.
  5. Announcement on the award of Consultant Professor , website of the National Polytechnic University of Xi'an "NPU", article from October 27, 2018, accessed on November 19, 2018.
  6. Vacation in space? In: Calendar sheet. Broadcast on Deutschlandradio Kultur : Ex-astronaut Ulrich Walter in conversation with Matthias Hanselmann, contribution from August 4, 2016 (Quotes: Minute 33–34 ( memento of the original from August 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note from the post). Retrieved on the day of broadcast. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / ondemand-mp3.dradio.de
  7. Germany # 57-59 - Funk Documentation Archive (QSL Collection). Retrieved October 8, 2019 .
  8. "Spacetime" from September 27, 2016 on Tuesdays at 8:05 pm - WELT. In: THE WORLD. Retrieved November 22, 2016 .