Space technologies are a key to the modern information and industrial society. Communication and TV reporting around the world, the satellite navigation system in cars or precise climate and weather analyses through to emergency mapping all depend on space technologies.???aural:Bildanfang??????Großansicht des Bildes???The European spacecraft Automated Transfer Vehicle ATV-2, docked to the International Space Station ISS. © ESA???aural:Bildende???
According to the new space strategy of the German Federal Government, lead by the BMWi (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology), the overriding aim for space projects must, at all times, be to continue improving human living conditions. State-funded space activities must therefore be channelled towards “space for the benefit of the Earth”. More information here.
Space projects will be judged according to the contribution they make to solving the challenges facing global society and whether the long-term application of high levels of funding can be expected to bring adequate benefits.
The Federal Government focuses its space policy strictly on benefits and needs while, at the same time, targeting visionary goals. To that end, space must, in competition with other instruments and with terrestrial processes and infrastructures, demonstrate that it offers the better solution from a cost-benefit standpoint. As tools of research, space projects must be guided by the “benchmarking” (scientific excellence) principle. In large-scale projects they must show that they can prevail in competition with other methods and scientific disciplines.
Space industry in Germany
The German aerospace industry spends an average of 20 percent of its turnover on research and development and is therefore one of the most research-intensive and innovative industries. As a result of their innovative strength, German companies are sought-after partners in international cooperation. The German locations of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) and OHB, together with a unique, innovative landscape of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) carry out important tasks in major aerospace projects.
In the last years the aerospace industry was on a growth curve. Important economic indicators such as turnover and employment increased. The turnover of the industry with its high percentage of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) was 2.2 billion euros in 2011. This shows an increase of 3,7 percent compared with 2010.
The Federal Government extended the expenditures for space research and programs. In the year 2011, the Federal Government invested a total of 1.2 billion euros in space programs. About 1 billion euros are coming from the BMWi (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) technology budget. The BMVBS (Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development) contributes 146 million euros towards European meteorological satellites and the GMES and Galileo programs. These two ministries are the main contributors to the German space budget.
The biggest single item in German spending on space is the country’s contribution to ESA, which stands at 616 euro in 2011. According to ESA rules, especially the geographical distribution of all the Agency´s contracts, the German contribution flows back to Germany in the form of contracts almost completely, thereby benefiting German firms and research facilities directly. Germany – as the second largest contributor to ESA after France – participates in ESA activities in all the key space sectors.
The second sector is the National Space Programme, to which the BMWi provided 236 euro in 2011. The purpose of the National Program is to satisfy the national needs for space applications, to support German-based business activity, and to conduct the preparatory work that enables Germany to play a pro-active role in ESA Programs. At the same time, the National Space Programme is a tool which, by setting strategic priorities, enables our industry to prepare for innovative solutions and the market.
Often, space projects can only be implemented within the framework of international cooperation because of their complexity and high costs. This is why Germany is one of the main partners in the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA finances scientific missions to explore the universe and awards contracts to aerospace firms with the aim of realizing major projects such as Europe's participation in the International Space Station (ISS) or the Ariane launcher system.