ATV-2 docking under the watchful eye of the Moon. Credits: ESA/NASA

There’s very nice news this morning from the German Aerospace Congress, taking place in Bremen.

On 27 September, ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle Development Phase team was awarded the 2011 Wernher von Braun prize by the German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics. Established in 1978, the von Braun prize is a top award given biennially by Germany’s leading aerospace association and recognizes “outstanding team contributions to aerospace development.”

The 2011 prize was presented in a ceremony yesterday at the German Aerospace Congress (Deutscher Luft-und Raumfahrtkongress) in Bremen by former ESA astronaut Ernst Messerschmid to representatives of the entire ATV Development Phase team, which includes ESA and EADS industry members.

“We are very proud of this prize given to the whole team for their outstanding contribution to the ATV project,” said Heinz Wartenberg, ATV Senior System Engineer, in an email. “This superb ‘made-in-Europe’ spacecraft is an indispensable contribution to the International Space Station and an essential starting point for future derivatives,” he added.

The trophy features a bronze head of Wernher von Braun. It will be displayed at ESA’s ESTEC Establishment. Past recipients of the von Braun prize have included US, German and French individuals, and – since it became a team award in 1999 – the Ariane-4 development team in Bremen, and, in 2008, the Columbus lab development team under ESA’s Bernardo Patti.

The German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics is the only organisation in Germany where all the technical and functional areas of aviation and aerospace are represented – from industry to ministries, and from teaching to research.