The competition for access to space


A spaceport in Germany – is that realistic? The universe is no longer just the goal of our explorer fantasies. China, the USA and Russia are fighting for supremacy there. The EU wants to join.

A spaceport in Rostock-Laage or in Nordholz near Cuxhaven? That sounds more like "Captain Future" than the future plan. But behind this idea stuck tough business interests. For a long time there has been a battle for supremacy in space among the superpowers China, USA and Russia. The EU wants to get involved.

"We need independent access to space," said Andreas Hammer from the Federal Association of the German Aerospace Industry recently at an event in Berlin. "Without space, our normal life no longer works, every day we live on we become more dependent on the activities in space".

In space, there are raw materials

Satellites in space feed our smartphones with GPS data or weather forecast. Our sat navs in the car also need data from satellites. "Nowadays nobody has the folding map in their car anymore and argues with their partner when they get lost," said Hammer, who also works for the defense and space armaments and aerospace division.

Space is not just about smartphones and sat navs. Unused money mountains are stored in space – in the form of raw materials. Until they can be promoted on asteroids or planets, it is still something, it says in a BDI policy paper. "But due to rapid technological innovations, the promotion of raw materials in space is in the realm of possibility."

German industry should benefit from the All

"Even if the idea sounds idiotic at first – give it a chance," warned the Director General of the European Space Agency ESA, Johann-Dietrich WOrner, with a view to earlier missions to the moon. This had been initially described as a "dead stone". Thanks to the flights there, we would know that there is not only water on earth, stressed WOrner. "Now they all fly, East and West."

In order for German industry to be able to contribute to future business in space, it needs twice as much money from the Federal Government as before. That at least calls for the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI). Instead of just 300 currently 700 million euros are needed. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier recently put a stop to the industry. He could not promise more money, said the CDU politician at the "Space Congress" in Berlin.

Infrastructure in space could become the target of enemy attacks

Unlike the mining of raw materials, the power-political scramble for the All-Power is already in full swing. It is all about the protection of critical infrastructure. "When you walk through Berlin, watchmen are standing in front of every embassy," Hammer said. Nuclear power plants are also protected. Only in space is it different: "We have at the moment in space infrastructure that is completely unprotected," said Hammer. We depend on this infrastructure on earth. And she could become the target of enemy attacks.

The EU has already developed its own navigation system called Galileo. The US, for example, can simply hide entire regions in their GPS systems, said CDU politician Thomas Jarzombek, who coordinates German aerospace for the German government. If the US does not want anyone to see a specific area on a map, then he does not see it either. "If you have a tough fight, you need your own system," Jarzombek added. It refers to crises, conflicts and wars.

Should space policy be less European?

Instead of spending more money on European projects of this kind, according to a report by the "Suddeutsche Zeitung" (Tuesday), there could be less money from 2020: the German government wants to cut back on the European Space Agency Esa. The grand coalition is increasingly relying on purely German projects and less on European joint projects: According to a coalition proposal, the report says Esa should lose around 80 million euros a year and German space programs should receive additional funding of around 12 million euros.

The Federal Ministry of Economics contradicts this presentation. Other ministries also contributed to the Esa budget; this will remain about the same in 2020. The Bundestag is to decide after SZ information on Thursday on the application of the grand coalition.

Back to the Rostock Spaceport and a misunderstanding: There are no "space shuttles" are shot into space, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy. It is about launches of small launchers, which also transported small satellites. Whether the Rostock-Laage airport is eligible, should consider a report by 2020. However, the spokeswoman emphasized: "It is by no means a German Cape Canaveral."

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