2006 Tycho Brahe Award

Presented to: Dr. Oliver Montenbruck

Citation: For his distinguished achievements in the design and application of spaceborne GPS receivers for autonomous spacecraft navigation and formation flying.


Dr. Oliver Montenbruck has led the development of miniature GPS receiver (e.g. Orion and Phoenix) offering sub-meter, realtime navigation accuracy in orbit. Indeed, Dr. Montenbruck is a well-known expert in the field of spaceborne GPS receiver testing and has contributed to many national and international space projects. Other GPS receivers developed by Dr. Montenbruck have been used for the instantaneous impact point prediction of sounding rockets including Texus, Maxus, Cuma, VSB-30, and Shefex.

Dr. Montenbruck was among the first to think beyond the single-satellite application of GPS. To serve multiple satellite applications, he led the early build-up of a hardware-in-the-loop formation flying test bed. Here, the feasibility of mm-level relative navigation using GPS was first demonstrated for up to four spacecraft using realistic space hardware. In a related context, Dr. Montenbruck devised an innovative orbital control concept providing a high level of passive safety for formation flying satellites. His eccentricity-inclination separation concept was successfully demonstrated during the swap maneuver of the GRACE satellites and forms the basis of the first operational SAR interferometry mission, TanDEM-X.

Most recently, Dr. Montenbruck provided a public record of the new GIOVE-A pseudorandom codes that he and his team recovered with a high gain antenna.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Dr. Montenbruck has made important contributions to education. His text books on positional astronomy and satellite orbits are widely used in university classes and well recognized in the scientific community.

He has written more than one hundred technical and scientific papers and holds two patents.

In 2002, his scientific achievements were honored by the prestigious "senior scientist" award of DLR.