The BDI wants its own spaceport in Germany. In order to keep up with the commercialization of space and not to miss the connection, politics must react.
Last year, the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) harvested nonsense and ridicule when he presented his air and space program "Bavaria One". There was talk of the first Bavaria on the moon, of a political satire, which was not to be taken seriously.
With the "Berlin Space Declaration", however, the industry association BDI has now launched another initiative for Germany: Germany should get fit for space. Space travel is today, 50 years after the moon landing, much more than just prestige, science or rockets, the BDI said: "The increasing commercialization of space travel, called New Space, is a great opportunity." Germany is a high-tech country, one leading export nation and the fourth largest economy in the world, "the statement says.
What follows is a catalog with eight suggestions on how Germany could be made Weltraumfit. Among other things, the political conditions should be created so that small satellites can start from Germany.
Specifically, this would mean adopting a national space law and building a private "micro space port" in Germany. From a kind of space station then small carrier rockets could start with satellites.
Vertical starts with big rockets like here at the European spaceport Kourou will not exist in Germany - the country is just too densely populated.
Space as an economic area
Behind the thrust is the realization that there is a lot of money to be made in outer space. It is not about manned lunar and marsupial missions, but about the near-Earth space as an economic area: through the use of satellites, a web-based Internet or through financially strong tourists.The German industry is afraid of missing out on these developments and therefore wants to put pressure on it , But in order to be able to actually pursue commercial interests in space, rules and infrastructure are lacking.
Spaceport needs space law
The former astronaut Ulrich Walter, Professor of Space at the Technical University of Munich, takes up the debate on a German spaceport. A problem with the German spaceport is that there is no space law to make that possible. "In contrast to other countries, the Germans did not launch a space law - in concrete terms: the Swedes want to build a spaceport in Kiruna, the English are building two in England, and the Portuguese are building one in Madeira."
If Germany wants to be a serious actor, Walter says, the legislature must first lay the foundations: "They want to fly into space and have to fly through the airspace, but they are not allowed to because the airspace is reserved for aircraft only. Second, if they fly into space and something happens, what rules apply? "
Could be used as a seat for a German spaceport: the airport Cuxhaven / Nordholz
Walter clearly rejects ideas of a kind of Cape Canaveral in Germany. Using the example of the former military airfield Nordholz on the North Sea, he explains what he thinks is possible - and what does not: "We are expanding Nordholz into a space airfield." This would mean flying with airplanes first to high altitudes over the North Sea and only from there go high into space - so no rocket station as Kourou (editor's note: spaceport in French Guiana), but start horizontally with aircraft. "That could be done from Nordholz," he says.
For the appropriate expansion of Nordholz, Walter estimates, must be estimated at around 50 million euros.Walter also makes it clear: For launch ramps and vertical take-offs Germany is unsuitable: "Germany is simply too densely populated for dangerous missile launches."
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier responded in a newspaper interview. At the beginning of next year, he will present "cornerstones for a space law": "Aerospace excites many people and secures thousands of jobs in Germany." We are a leader in satellite technology, so I will gladly consider the BDI proposal for a spaceport. "
The BDI also proposes to increase the national space budget from 285 to more than 700 million euros and to let a German astronaut fly to the moon in 2024. At least the last proposal will probably remain just wishful thinking. US President Donald Trump has announced that he wants to land on the moon again in 2024 . Here, a US astronaut is the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface. It is virtually impossible that a non-American astronaut will be present at the prestigious mission.
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