Technologies of the future: German industry demands more money for space travel

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German industry has called on the federal government to spend considerably more on space.

Space travel is of central importance to industry in the digital age, and keys to future technologies such as autonomous driving, according to a policy paper issued by the German Federation of German Industries (BDI) on Tuesday. However, Germany's strength as one of the world's leading industrial nations is not reflected in space spending. Germany is only ninth in international comparison.

Space travel is an "engine for innovation". Given the increasing importance of space for the modern digital economy, it is urgently necessary to significantly increase the national space budget in Germany, says the paper. In 2018, the German National Program for Space and Innovation was 285 million euros. By comparison, for example, France has a budget of € 726 million over the same period.

This imbalance exists even in non-European comparison. "A self-confident space program is the breeding ground for a self-confident participation of the German space travel in the growing world market, on which Germany not only goes with the trend, but sets the standards at the top."

Fifty years after the first manned moon landing, the BDI is in favor of Germany playing a "central role" when returning to the moon. The moon also has the long term potential to serve as a stopover for a mission to Mars. Already today, Germany, as the leading manufacturer of an important technical module for the next manned spacecraft in the USA, has a globally unique core competence. "Germany should build on that and act as the central partner of the USA."

The US under President Donald Trump had recently announced plans to land US astronauts on the moon within the next five years. As the first human, US astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. The last human on the moon was in December 1972, the American Gene Cernan.

In addition to a return to the moon, the industry association BDI also sees space mining as a topic of the future. It will take some time until it comes to the mining of resources on asteroids or planets, it says in the paper. "However, due to rapid technological innovation, the extraction of raw materials in space is moving into the realm of possibility." Only recently did the US and Luxembourg have close cooperation in the commercial use of space. Luxembourg is the only EU country that has already legally regulated space mining.

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