Cerdani Space Exploration Institute

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Cerdani Space Exploration Institute
Deurtsches Institut für Weltraumforschung
DIFW Logo.svg
DIFW Emblem
DIFW Logotype.svg
DIFW logotype
Agency overview
Formed18 September 1959
TypeSpace Agency
JurisdictionVolkskammer der DDR
Motto"For peace and progress"
General Manager
Isolde Ortwin
Primary spaceportsDettellohn Launch Station, Halle Rocket Facility
OwnerCerdani Democratic Republic

The Cerdani Space Exploration Institute (DIfW) is state institution of Cerdani Democratic Republic that is responsible for the nation's space program and all space related activities.

The DIfW was formed in 1959 as a merger of the civilian Cosmos Institute and the National People's Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory into a single state institution for better co-ordination and operation. The Institute achieved their first orbit of the Urth in 1963 and subsequently sent the first Cerdan and East Cerdan into space in 1968.

In 2022 with the formation of the Gondwanan Space Agency certain aspects of the Institute's functions were placed under the jurisdiction of the GSA, although the with DIfW still retaining control and management independent of the GSA for most facilities and space equipment.



The first 30 years of the institute's operations were marked by a steady increase of missions and their complexities. Starting off from the first launches that the DIfW conducted with sounding rockets in 1960 to later sending the first Cerdan satellite into orbit in 1963.


Space Debris Crisis

Along with most of the world's space programs the DIfW was subject to a 3 year moratorium on launching spacecraft due to the Space Debris Crisis. In response funding for all space launches were frozen and temporarily shifted to ground-based observational work and sub-orbital rocket research. Funding was restored at the end of the moratorium and rocket launches have since resumed.

Present Day

Current Projects

The DIfW's program falls into various different operations including a highly classified military satellite series and complex interplanetary exploration missions. DIfW satellites, launch vehicles and equipment are typically named after important events in Cerdani Communist and Socialist history.

Victorious August Satellite Array

Artist's rendition of an SAS-OM (Oceanography & Meteorology) Satellite

The Victorious August Satellite Array (SASA) are the DIfW's primary Urth Observation satellite series, the series also comprises subsets with specific satellites dedicated for communication, meteorology, oceanography and surveying. The majority of these satellites operate in geostationary orbits. The first satellite of the series launched in 1975 with the most recent launch being in 2022.

Rote Stufen Military Satellites

The Rote Stufen are highly classified military and spy satellites known to comprise of ELINT, radar, communication and imaging satellites. The satellites operate in varying orbits depending on their role. Rote Stufen is an only used as an internal name, internationally and officially the satellites are given a Kosmos designator and unique number such as Kosmos 453 to mask their true role. The first known Kosmos satellite launched in 1966 and have launched every year since barring the 3 year moratorium due to the Space Debris Crisis.

Volksmacht Satellites

Volksmacht are the flagship interplanetary missions of the DIfW. Volksmacht satellites are all specially designed and built for their missions which have ranged from initial early Lunar missions in the 1970s to the interplanetary missions of the 1990s and present day. The first Volksmacht satellite launched in 1971 to study the moon and enter a stable orbit around it with the most recent being launched in 2017 and en-route to the outer solar system.

Urth Based Observatories

The DIfW currently operates and maintains 3 purpose-built observatory facilities with numerous smaller faculties it also manages or runs in tandem with universities.

Karstseen Observatory

The Karsteen Observatory was the first Observatory that was purpose built for the DIfW. It opened in 1978 and underwent a major modernisation program in 2015. This included the construction of three new telescopes on site bringing the total number of telescopes at the site in 2022 to four. The observatory conducts a wide range of activities from local solar system monitoring to infrared and radio observations of the universe.


The IFWR-500 is a large radio telescope comprised of a 500 meter diameter dish located in a natural karst sinkhole. The IFWR-500 is one of the largest radio telescopes on Urth and is key to radio astronomy.

Gänsernweg Geodetic Observatory

The Gänsernweg Geodetic Observatory is a medium sized observatory dedicated primarily to geodesy along with a number of antennas available for VLBI. It is currently the largest and most advanced geodetic observatory on Gondwana.

Interkosmos Program

The Interkosmos Program is a relatively unique and specialised program of the DIfW that provides free or low-cost spaceflight access to friendly nations, typically other socialist and communist nations that do not have their own space launch capabilities. Although often comprising manned missions it also has included launches of satellites and unmanned payloads for other nations.

Launch Capabilities


A Fortschritt Rocket on the launchpad at the Dettellohn Launch Station

The Fortschritt rocket series is the primary launch vehicle for manned missions and for select unmanned missions. Originally developed from early ICBM designs the Fortschritt first flew in 1966 and sent the first Cerdan into space in 1968.


The Elektron rockets are the workhorse of the DIfW, used exclusively for unmanned missions, the rocket is highly versatile in it's configurations. The series first flew in 1976 and has been continuously developed since.


The DIfW currently operates two launch facilities.

Dettellohn Launch Station

The Dettellohn Launch Station is the primary launch facility of the DIfW, responsible for all manned launches and every major mission since it's commission in 1962. The station was originally a ballistics testing facility constructed in 1947 and was acquired by DIfW when it was formed in 1959. The site underwent major construction work throughout the early 1960s to allow it to facilitate manned launches and larger rockets. The DLS was officially commissioned in 1962 but was not fully operational until 1966. It was last upgraded in 2010 with the expansion of two launch pads to support larger and heavier launch vehicles and compatibility for select foreign launch vehicles.

Halle Rocket Facility

Located in Eastern Hallenhude, the Halle Rocket Facility was constructed from 2001 to 2008 is typically used for the testing and certification of engines and boosters. It also contains a small launch site for unmanned orbital and suborbital rockets along with a sounding rocket range.