In her keynote speech at the SPACE MEGATRENDS event at the ILA Space Day Conference on 23 June, Federal Government Aerospace Coordinator Dr. Anna Christmann outlined the substantial benefits of aerospace programmes to humanity over recent decades and examined the opportunities for German and European participation in future projects. Afterwards, a panel of high-ranking figures discussed the mega trends and agreed on the relevant issues.
At ILA Berlin the slogan of the Space Pavilion In Hall 6 is ’Space for Earth’. According to Dr. Christmann, there is no doubt about the benefits of space programmes to humanity. She mentioned weather tracking and navigation satellites as everyday examples. Especially in the face of the climate crisis, space flight with its Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) programme was helping to determine water distribution on Earth. With the arrival of new and flexible actors (including startups with microlaunchers and small satellites) and against the backdrop of the commercial exploitation of space (“new space“), successful joint partnerships with industry had the potential to reduce programme costs.
The state in the role of a customer
“We want to create a competitive situation in which the state is a key customer awarding payload contracts“, Christmann said. Sustainability also had to be part of space flight, and by introducing de-orbiting a greater effort had to be made to prevent space debris. “In all of this, ensuring technological sovereignty is increasingly important, but there is no need to accomplish everything on our own. Significant contributions and close partnerships must enable Europe to actively help shape space flight“, Christmann said.
Not lagging behind
According to Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Dr. Josef Aschbacher, Germany and Europe had demonstrated excellence with Galileo, the world’s most accurate navigation system, and the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme. However, Europe had to avoid lagging behind, especially in the light of the US and China increasing their budgets. According to the head of the German Space Agency of the DLR and member of the DLR board Walther Pelzer, it was necessary to define clear targets: “The programme’s benefits must come first – independence may be of value in itself, but Europe has no interest in a new space race, which the US and China seem to be engaging in.”
Communicating how space flight vastly benefits Earth
According to Sebastian Roloff, SPD member of the German Bundestag, the public had not yet fully registered the benefits of space programmes. “They need to know what space flight actually achieves.” BDLI Vice President Aerospace and Chairman of the Board of OHB Marco R Fuchs added: “Climate change and decarbonisation are confirmation of the overall direction of space programmes. Other European countries such as Italy and France are already investing more effort and funding in order to fight crises – Germany must not lag behind!“
Support for SME participation in major space programmes
Lastly, Sebastian Scheiding, CEO of Astro- und Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH, underlined the importance of small and medium-sized companies’ (SMEs) contributing to space programmes: “Our numbers are not small. More than 100 SMEs with a combined workforce of 2,000 make up 20 per cent of the German aerospace industry. Consideration should be given to SMEs and their suppliers where the big issues and programmes are concerned – ideally to the tune of 20 per cent.” Besides Earth observation programmes, telecommunications also generated large business, he said.