SPACE FOR EARTH
Space is an industry sector that is vital to our modern society. Many of current challenges can only be solved with innovative space technology.
A HIGH-POTENTIAL INDUSTRY
- Climate Change
We only have one Earth. As such, sustainable action and development are the primary political objectives of the United Nations. These come with economic, societal and environmental implications. Aerospace and space applications can promote sustainability, especially with a view to the future-oriented global management of vital resources. Satellites, for instance, provide comprehensive information about the state of the Earth and the changes that it is undergoing. Among other things, this data can be used to ensure greater sustainability in agriculture, mobility, urban development, and for developing measures to counteract climate change. Aerospace is also seen as a key sphere of technology for international cooperation on sustainable development.
How will we get from A to B in the future? Satellite-based services are essential for our increasingly mobile society and an economy that relies on global supply chains. The European Galileo navigation system, for instance, brings us safely to our destinations and is an alternative to the American GPS. Shipping and air transport also use space technologies for global route planning. If global navigation systems were to suddenly stop working, this would have major consequences for the global economy and infrastructure. Finally, let us not forget the launchers that carry these and other satellites into space.
Research is the basis for innovation. Space travellers have long been intrigued by complex questions and looked beyond Earth into the depths of the Universe. The exploration of space, research under space conditions and the International Space Station (ISS) are just as much the focus here as the development of innovative, resource-saving technologies and designs for spacecraft, satellites and rockets. Space research helps us to address global societal challenges, provides us with knowledge about the development of Earth and the Solar System, and establishes new scientific fundamentals. It is also a key driver of innovation, including in the fields of microelectronics, materials science and robotics.
Space travel enables, shapes and underpins our modern way of life. It is a key sector in Germany, which has positioned itself as a high-tech hub, and generates highly skilled and innovative jobs. Its services are also pivotal to the country’s competitiveness. Many different industries – from tourism to construction, agriculture, shipping, air transportation and international financial markets – rely on satellite data transmitted from orbit. The worldwide demand for new space technologies and the need for data, digital services and connectivity are on the rise. Investment in industry is also increasing: New Space enterprises – newly founded space companies aimed at making commercial use of space – are emerging in Germany and all over the world.
Aerospace is cooperative by nature. Major projects like the International Space Station (ISS) and the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020, can only be realised through the efforts of an international team. On another level, increasing numbers of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany and the rest of Europe are using the data and services made freely available by the European Earth observation programme Copernicus to develop new business models. These range from applications for smart agriculture to a data platform that allows suppliers and service providers to follow the progress of construction projects. ESA estimates that, over the next 20 years, Copernicus alone will generate up to 191 billion euro for the European economy alone.
The ‘digital revolution’ is transforming both our professional and private lives to an unprecedented extent. Our growing digital networking is based, in particular, on much greater data availability, increased storage and computing capacity, and the global networking of IT systems. Space infrastructure, such as satellites, plays a major role in the acquisition, storage and processing of global datasets. Furthermore, space is becoming more digital and benefiting from developments such as Industry 4.0. This is resulting in the emergence of numerous new research approaches and business models.
Heat waves, heavy rain, hurricanes and persistent droughts – climate change is not a future scenario, but rather the present-day reality. Our modern way of life in industrialised society is responsible. The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and intensive livestock farming all contribute to this. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce outgoing thermal radiation and thus cause temperatures to rise. Earth observation satellites enable us to see that climate change is happening globally and over the long term. The information acquired by such satellites in space serves as a basis for political and societal decisions geared towards ensuring sustainable development here on Earth.
By 2030, 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities. In projects such as Space4Cities, satellite-based Earth observation is providing an important source of information for new sustainable urban and regional development strategies. To be able to offer practical and effective solutions, satellite information must often be combined and evaluated with data held by public authorities. DLR is therefore participating in GAIA-X, a concept for the development of a new European cloud infrastructure to overcome the technical and regulatory hurdles associated with data storage in a homogeneous, user-friendly system.
Security and protection of critical infrastructures
Security is not only a basic human need, but also one of the most important challenges for our networked and globalised society. Many civilian applications are no longer conceivable without data from satellites, such as meteorological satellites. Space-based Earth observation, communications and navigation systems are critical infrastructures and central components of national security. As such, space situational awareness, the protection of space and terrestrial infrastructures from disturbances, and ensuring the sustainable use of space by minimising space debris are all becoming increasingly important.