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Space logistics: DHL takes its operations from global to galactic

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DHL is taking its forwarding operations from global to galactic, diving into space logistics to help the ION Satellite Carrier on its journey into space.   

DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist of Deutsche Post DHL Group, announced its partnership with New Space Company D-Orbit to jointly tackle terrestrial challenges and leverage galactic opportunities.  

D-Orbit, a specialised company covering the entire lifecycle of space mission, including logistics serviceswill be working with DHL’s innovation team DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation (CSI) to set up logistics for the ION Satellite Carrier.  

Developed and designed by D-Orbit, the satellite carrier is planned to launch at Cape Canaveral space base in Florida in January 2021. 

“We are excited about this partnership for two key reasons,” said Tim Scharwath, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding.  

First, D-Orbit shares our vision of reliable, safe and sustainable logistics to connect people and to improve lives,” Scharwath said.  

He said D-Orbit developed its solutions by placing intelligent, safe, and efficient orbital transportation at the heart of its corporate vision, for commercial and human expansion that must be – first and foremost – sustainable. 

Secondly, he said, this project came to life because of collaboration within the company.  

He continued that it is a perfect example on how they work closely together with their innovation experts from DHL CSI to develop pioneering industry-tailored solutions and put innovation into practice.  

DHL Global Forwarding CEO Italy Mario Zini also commented on DHL’s newest expedition into space logistics.  

“With the advent of satellite constellations and habitable bases, space logistics is an emerging niche within the industry,” Zini said 

He explained that while the core of logistics remains the same, whether in space or on Earth, more stringent constraints and extreme conditions challenge the safe transport, storage, and delivery of materials and products beyond Earth’s atmosphere and back 

Zini continued that they are proud to support their partner D-Orbit with this critical mission, as they believe that space logistics will witness great expansion over the next few years, which they also highlighted for the first time in the latest edition of the DHL Logistics Trend Radar.  

He also maintained that there are enormous opportunities on the horizon for service providers in this sector.  

We firmly believe in the possibility of developing cutting-edge and sustainable solutions, especially for the transportation and storage of the future,” he said.  

Space logistics: Challenges and opportunities 

Through the technological advancement and successes in the last decade, the vision of living and colonising space has slowly reawakened. 

 In addition, the space sector is significantly adding to life on earth, like for instance monitoring the climate and collecting important data from space.  

With exciting developments in the private and public sector, DHL stressed that there are growing questions that need to be answered for space logistics to be successful and sustainable in the future, including: 

  • How will supply chains be planned and managed?  
  • How will the accumulation of space debris be curbed and reversed?  
  • As launch rates and emissions increase, are there more sustainable ways to transport objects into space?  
  • How can products be packaged to survive the extreme forces of a rocket launch and the exposure to high radiation and extreme temperatures of the space environment?  

However, DHL said that despite the change of location, distances, and gravitational levels, the challenge facing the logistics industry is always the same: delivering goods from point A to point B – safe, on-time, and with the greatest efficiency possible.  

“The success of our recent ION Satellite Carrier mission established D-Orbit as the first orbital transport company, with the ability to deploy satellites into precise orbital slots,” said Jonathan Firth, Chief Operating Officer, D-Orbit.  

Firth concluded that the next step in their roadmap will be In-Orbit Servicing: moving existing satellites from one orbit to another, performing repair and refuelling operations for vehicles in orbit, satellites at the end of their mission, thus optimising resources and keeping space clean 

Source: DHL 

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