File image of a DLR Test Stand in Lampoldshausen, Germany.
On 22 and 23 November 2022, the ministers and government representatives of the 22 member states of the European Space Agency ESA met at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris to set the course for joint space programmes "made in Europe". The Council at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, which sets the content and financial framework for ESA's space programmes on average every three years.
The German delegation was headed by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, and the Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, Anna Christmann. They were accompanied and supported by representatives from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action ( Bundesministerium fur Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz; BMWK) and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (Bundesministerium fur Digitales und Verkehr; BMDV).
Walther Pelzer, German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board member and Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR, also participated in the negotiations. Together with his team in Bonn, Pelzer prepared working-level German position papers for the meeting in consultation with Federal Government officials.
Germany took over the chairmanship of the ESA Council from France in Paris and will host the next conference in 2025.
"Whether it's the Ukraine war, the energy crisis or the climate crisis, spaceflight makes important strategic contributions to solving these global challenges. That is why I am glad that we have succeeded in providing four billion euros from Germany (economic conditions 2022, which is about 3.5 billion euros when calculated on mixed economic conditions) to shape European space activities in the coming years. Climate protection, competition and New Space as well as Europe's independence in space are our focus here," says Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy.
"A particular success for Germany is that we have achieved more competition in launchers. As a result, private suppliers of mini- and micro-launchers will be able to participate in ESA tenders in future. This is a paradigm shift with which we are giving new impetus to New Space and private activities."
She adds: "Space is more than science fiction. With our contribution, Germany is strengthening ESA - as agreed in the coalition agreement - and living up to its leading role for a strong European space industry and scientific landscape."
DLR Executive Board member Walther Pelzer emphasises that spaceflight is only possible with international cooperation: "In addition to climate protection and competitiveness, especially in the launcher sector and in the development of innovative technologies, our the third focus of the negotiations was exploration. Continuing this commitment also means strengthening international cooperation. Large-scale space exploration projects require European and global cooperation. This not only ensures success, but such 'space diplomacy' also makes space itself an important area of international collaboration."
In total, the ESA member states concluded on a budget of 16.9 billion euros. Of this total, Germany is contributing 4 billion (economic conditions 2022, around 3.5 billion euros mixed economic conditions). Amounting to 20.8 percent of the total contributions, it is ESA's strongest partner along with France (18.9 percent) and Italy (18.2 percent).
Germany will provide 1.15 billion euros (current economic conditions) for the ESA mandatory programmes: In addition to the General Budget, these include the Science Programme and the European Spaceport in French Guiana. About 2.37 billion euros of the German contribution will go to the optional programmes: these include about 669 million euros for Earth observation, about 365 million euros for telecommunications, 50 million euros for technology programmes, 155 million euros for space situational awareness and space security, 368 million euros for space transport and operations, and about 726 million euros for human spaceflight, research in microgravity and exploration.
Germany's main contributions in detail:
From the end of 2023, Ariane 6 will be the new European launcher to carry payloads into space. The industrial prime contractors are ArianeGroup, in Germany with sites in Bremen and Ottobrunn, and MT Aerospace in Augsburg and Bremen. Germany is contributing a total of about 162 million euros to the further development of Ariane 6 and its market introduction.
Germany is investing around 52 million euros in the optional LEAP (Launchers Exploitation Accompaniment) programme, which also includes the operation of DLR's test facility for rocket engines in Lampoldshausen. This is now considered essential infrastructure, as was previously only the case with the European Spaceport in French Guiana.
Germany is contributing around 123 million euros to the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). Focal points are the development of a low-cost and lightweight upper stage, the improvement of the performance of existing and new engines as well as the implementation of new processes and methods.
Germany is also a strong partner in the programme for commercial space transport services - BOOST! for short - which focuses on promoting SMEs and start-ups. Thanks to the German initiative, it was also possible to include microlaunchers for use as launchers for ESA payloads.
Earth observation and climate protection
Germany is a global leader in Earth observation - both scientifically, technologically and in the processing and use of data to analyse the Earth system. With around 185 million euros (30 percent), the Federal Republic is maintaining its leading role in the European Earth observation programme Copernicus.
This involves the further development and expansion of the system to include new Sentinel satellites and services for climate monitoring and protection, agriculture, mobility, security and disaster prevention. The programme provides essential data for the implementation of the European Green Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement and for climate mitigation measures. Germany represents the largest group of Copernicus users.
The new programme 'Climate-Space' focuses on satellite-based climate research, including at the regional and local level. With a focus on climate and atmosphere, the results from Climate-Space will be integrated, among other things, into the Copernicus services, which are currently being established in Bonn at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Together with another new programme, Digital Twin Earth, Germany is supporting the simulation of climate data with a total of around 23 million euros.
In addition, Germany is contributing around 347 million euros to the FutureEO programme. In addition to the scientific Earth Explorer satellites, the weather satellites of the European Organisation for Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and most of its measuring instruments, as well as the Sentinel satellites of the Copernicus programme, also have their origins here.
The programme also opens the door to new markets by increasing the use of NewSpace approaches as well as innovative technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This also gives small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups the chance to access global markets with services.
The ESA satellite 'Aeolus' is the first satellite to measure and record wind fields and their global movement at different altitudes in the entire atmosphere, and has been doing so with its dual LiDAR instrument since August 2018. With Aeolus 2, this test satellite is now to become a programme. Two satellites are to routinely measure global 3D wind fields between 2030 and 2040 in order to improve the accuracy of our weather forecasts significantly. In the Aeolus 2 preparatory programme, Germany is involved in the development of the laser transmitter with national funding from the BMDV.
The 'InCubed-2' programme is aimed at short term private commercial Earth observation activities - Germany is participating here with around 10 million euros. InCubed-2 (Investing in Industrial Innovation 2) provides a framework for flexible and agile cooperation with the European Earth observation industry.