Foto von Nicolas Appel

M.Sc. Nicolas Appel

Technische Universität München

Lehrstuhl für Raumfahrttechnik (Prof. Holzapfel komm.)


Boltzmannstr. 15
85748 Garching b. München



MOVE-II (2014-2017)

TDP-3 Vanguard / BX22 (2016)

Telematics Observer Mission (2017-2018)

Multi-Functional Large Space Structures (2018-2022) - Antennas for deep-space solar sails. Solar Sails are large foil structures, which use the radiation pressure of the sun to accelerate a spacecraft. The advantage of this very new and exciting technology is that mission concepts beyond the limitations of the tyranny of the rocket equation are possible. However, the force exerted on the solar sail is very low, and by Newton's second law of motion, the acceleration of the spacecraft decreases with increasing mass. Therefore, decreasing the system's mass is very desirable. Previous and current research focuses on subsystems like the sail structure itself and its deployment mechanism, there is also research on how to implement subsystem function into the sail, like solar cells and attitude control mechanisms.

This project will explore the integration of the antenna subsystem into the sail. Research items of this project are manufacturing feasibility, feed network and antenna design. A large surface covered in pure aluminium is predestined for such reflections. A large surface can host many singular antennas, which can then be connected together using a network of transmission lines. This increases the gain of the antenna, a metric which states how efficiently and directive an antenna can transmit and receive power. The further a spacecraft travels from its communication partner, earth, the higher the gain needs to be. We can see that for interplanetary or even interstellar travel, very large antennas would be required. Solar sails can have sizes of hundreds to thousands of square meters, which gives lots of room for many antennas. We want to explore the physical limits and engineering limits of the antenna array's size and performance. At the end of the project, there will be a demonstrator antenna that proves the feasibility and usability of this technology. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation.


Papers & Publications



Appel, N., Werner, C., Hoppe, J., & Stegmann, L. (2022). Multi-Functional Radiating Structures for Solar Sailing Missions. B2. IAF Space Communications and Navigation Symposium.

Appel, N. (2022). Structure- Integrated Antennas for Solar Sails. 2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO), 1–9.


Appel, N., Rückerl, S., Langer, M., & Klein, R.-D. (2020). Communications. In Nanosatellites: Space and Ground Technologies, Operations and Economics (pp. 115–141). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd Chichester, UK.


S. Günther, N.Appel, G. Carle, "Galois Field Arithmetics for Linear Network Coding using AVX512 Instruction Set Extensions", arXiv:1909.02871 [cs.DC]


S. Rückerl, N. Appel, R-D. Klein, M. Langer, "Software-Defined Communication on the Nanosatellite MOVE-II", International Astronautic Congress, 2018, Bremen, Germany.


Langer, M., Schummer, F., Appel, N., Gruebler, T., Janzer, K., Kiesbye, J., ... & Weisgerber, M. MOVE-II-The Munich Orbital Verification Experiment II. In Proceedings of the 4th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions & CubeSat Workshop, IAA-AAS-CU-17-06 (Vol. 5).

N. Appel, A. Kimpe, K. Kraus, M. Langer, M. Losekamm, M. Milde, T. Pöschl, S. Rückerl, F. Schäfer, A. Stromsky, K. Würl, “TDP-3 Vanguard: Verification of a New Communication System for CubeSats on BEXUS 22”, Proc. 23rd ESA Symposium European Rocket & Balloon Programmes and Related Research’, 11–15 June 2017, Visby, Sweden.

K. Schilling, T. Tzschichholz, I. Motroniuk, A. Aumann, I. Mammadov, O. Ruf, C. Schmidt, N. Appel, A. Kleinschrodt, S. Montenegro, A. Nüchter: “TOM: A FORMATION FOR PHOTOGRAMMETRIC EARTH OBSERVATION BY THREE CUBESATS”, 4th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions, 2017.


N. Appel, S. Rückerl, M. Langer, "Nanolink: A Robust and Efficient Protocol for Small Satellite Radio Links”, Proceedings of the Small Satellites Systems and Services – The 4S Symposium 2016, Valletta, Malta, May 30–June 3, 2016.


Appel N., Klein R.D., Langer M.: „Developing a Next Generation CubeSat Radio Link”, 8th Pico- and Nano-Satellite Workshop on "Technologies for Small Satellite Research", Würzburg, Germany, September 15-16 2015.

Fuchs, C. M., Trinitis, C., Appel, N., & Langer, M. (2015). A fault-tolerant radiation-robust mass storage concept for highly scaled flash memory. DASIA2015.

Langer M., Appel N., Dziura M., Fuchs C., Günzel P., Gutsmiedl J., Losekamm M., Meßmann D., Trinitis C.: “MOVE-II – der zweite Kleinsatellit der Technischen Universität München“, Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress 2015, Rostock, Germany, September 22-24 2015.

Langer, M., Trinitis, C., & Appel, N. (2015). Dependable Computing for Miniturized Satellites. In 4th EIROforum School on Instrumentation.