German industry calls for significant gov’t investments in space travel

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also noted that space travel was "of enormous strategic importance" for Germany, despite being "a comparatively small industrial sector".

The German government should spend significantly more money on space travel, according to a policy paper published by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) on Tuesday.

According to the BDI, space travel “contributes significantly to mastering central global challenges and to Germany’s prosperity.”

50 years after the first manned moon landing, the BDI argued that Germany should play a “central role” in the return to the moon.

“Many future technologies such as autonomous driving, digitization and industry 4.0” were founded on the success of space travel technologies, said BDI president Dieter Kempf.

Space travel would become a “critical infrastructure for Germany as an industrial country,” said Kempf, calling for the government’s industrial strategy to better reflect this.

According to BDI, global aerospace revenues currently amounted to around 260 billion U.S. dollars and were expected to increase “more than tenfold” by 2040.

Last year, Germany’s national program for space and innovation amounted to 285 million euros (317.8 million U.S. dollars), according to the BDI.

In comparison, France had a budget of 726 million euros for the same period. Kempf called for Germany’s space budget to be raised “at least” to the same level as France.

The BDI position paper noted that Germany only ranked ninth in an international comparison of space expenditures, based on the country’s European Space Agency (ESA) contributions and national budget.

The BDI described space travel as being as “indispensable as electricity from a socket”. German citizens benefited from space travel in areas ranging from communication, navigation, earth observation and environmental and climate protection.

“Space travel has long been more than scientific hobby,” added the BDI.

The German government said that it attached “particular importance to space travel” as an important key technology and instrument of the modern information and industrial society.

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also noted that space travel was “of enormous strategic importance” for Germany, despite being “a comparatively small industrial sector”.