News | 08.11.2017

Prof. Dr. Horst Löb – Pioneer of European Space Electric Propulsion, inventor of the RIT

Colloquium for commemorating Horst Löb’s achievements in the field of Space Electric Propulsion

Horst Löb died on 18th October 2016 at the age of 84. He was a true pioneer of electric propulsion, in particular, of RIT technology and his passing is a great loss for the scientific community. He spent almost all his scientific life and professional career at the Institute of Experimental Physics I of Giessen University.

On 7th September 2017, the Institute of Experimental Physics I invited former colleagues, students, and friends to a memorial colloquium for commemorating Horst Löb’s achievements in the field of EP. More than 100 people from Russia, the United States, and Europe came and attended the colloquium and honored the great man. Many of them were former companions from companies, research institutions, and space agencies, but also many of his former coworkers and former students came. Prof. Dr. Peter J. Klar as current Director of the Institute welcomed the guests. Dr. Roger Myers, President of the ERPS, gave an inspiring presentation about future challenges in EP. Prof. Dr. Hans Leiter of Ariane Group as one of Horst Löb’s former PhD students gave a very personal talk about Horst Löb and his passionate work on RIT technology. The event closed with a reception accompanied by animated discussions about former times and future visions.

Giessen University has strongly profited from Horst Löb’s pioneering work and is very proud of his legacy. EP research in Giessen will continue and is well prepared for the future. Giessen University and the University of Applied Sciences at Giessen are combining expertise in Physics and Electrical Engineering to address new research topics in EP, in addition to RIT technology, including electromagnetic compatibility, radiation hardened electronics, alternative propellants for replacing xenon, novel miniaturized thrusters to name a few. This October a new BSc/MSc program “Physics and Technology for space applications” commences to train young people in the field of EP. Cooperation agreements with the DLR institute at Göttingen exist, forming between the two institutions one of the largest clusters of EP test facilities in Germany.

The University has formalized the cooperation with Ariane Group in the field of developing RIT technology. Unfortunately, Horst Löb could not share these recent developments anymore and it is a great pity that he missed his dream, commercial RITs in space, come true: Boeing will equip satellites with RIT-2X thrusters.