of space sector
• Coronavirus crisis affects companies in the space industry: Production has fallen sharply in some cases
• Space services enable a minimum of everyday life during the crisis
• Space connects: Proximity from a distance and quarantine without loss of contact
• Strategic foresight by the federal government is now paying off
• Space is an important government task
From global crisis prevention via working from home to live communication in social isolation, the coronavirus crisis reveals how indispensable space technology and space applications are for the functioning and our society’s everyday life.
At the same time, this crisis is also affecting companies in the space industry. Production has already fallen sharply in some cases. The partners – our clients, the national space agencies ESA and DLR and the aerospace industry – are currently working together constructively and in solidarity at a high pace to avoid the worst effects, to adapt processes and to continue to advance their projects under difficult conditions. This is intended to maintain the entire space supply chain, from medium-sized suppliers to systems providers. Furthermore, all space stakeholders in industry and research alike trust that the Bundestag and the federal government will continue to recognize the strategic and important role space plays for life on Earth and continue to invest.
“In times of crisis, the strategic foresight of the federal government and the Bundestag over the past decades pays off,” says Marco Fuchs, BDLI Vice President Space and member of the Board. “Government investment in space will secure satellite applications in the important areas of climate and Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications. Space technology enables digitalization, home office and telemedicine. In the current crisis, this allows us to adhere to quarantine without loss of contact, relieves the healthcare system and keeps many companies running. Once again it is quite clear that space is and will remain a governmental responsibility.” Fuchs emphasizes: “It has never been more evident than in this severe crisis that investment in the key technology space is investment for the direct benefit of all citizens and their immediate well-being.”
“Under the present circumstances, space achievements guarantee in many respects the functioning of our society and our everyday life. Many users are not even aware that space represents a critical infrastructure that allows us to keep in touch with family and colleagues from home. It creates proximity even at a distance, at work and in private life,” adds Andreas Hammer, member of the BDLI Board, “and enables knowledge transfer and thus the schooling of millions of pupils.”
ESA’s Director General Prof. Dr. Johann-Dietrich Wörner underlines: “In such massive crises, overarching systemic strengths and weaknesses become clearly visible. It becomes evident to everyone that space is more than a niche topic, it is infrastructure with a broad impact. The various space activities reveal, for example, the extent of the crisis with regard to the economy through Earth observation; satellite communications enable telemedicine and distance learning; and much more. At the same time, however, the inspiring effect of ambitious projects such as the International Space Station (ISS) or science missions to planets and for understanding the universe is important, especially in difficult times, for looking ahead. In these times, space is particularly suited to keep the European economy competitive through long-term projects. After all, it is space technology that intensifies our environmental awareness by providing information about global changes. For even in these difficult times, we continue to care for our environment, taking into account climate change and the dangers in and from space.”
“Satellite-based Earth observation allows us to monitor and map current changes due to the coronavirus crisis all over the world. This enables us to measure the reduction of emissions and thus obtain valuable data for research into climate change. At the same time, the crisis shows us that critical space infrastructure, such as the German Space Operations Center at DLR, is fully operational even under difficult conditions,” explains Prof. Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, “and we are seeing just how creative our employees are. Three-D printers for high-tech applications in DLR research are now being used to produce breathing masks and urgently needed valves for ventilators.”
Due to the cancellation of the ILA 2020, the largest and most important space exhibition, the Space Pavilion 2020, will not take place either. This platform is one of the decisive, unique selling points of this leading global aerospace innovation fair. Since 1992, the Space Pavilion has been organized in a proven partnership between the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI). On 4,500 m², space agencies, science and space companies jointly present innovations and developments from the space sector – across borders and countries. The partners had planned a spectacular space control center for 2020 to present space in all its facets and fascination. This will now be on display at the next ILA in 2022. Until then, it is the urgent task of the space sector to help and support Germany and Europe safely through the crisis.