Germany’s Ministry of Economy is drafting new space laws and regulations – that could be submitted to the Bundestag for ratification as soon as the end of this year – in order to incentivize the German private sector to invest in the rapidly growing global space sector, according to a 28 April 2019 report by Reuters.
The new legislation and regulations are part of a German response to economic rivals such as China, the United States, and even Luxembourg, establishing themselves as commercial space powers that are attracting billions of dollars of private investment and the best engineering talent in the world – to include young German engineers.
“We are sounding the alarm that Germany and Europe are falling behind in space vis-a-vis China and the United States,” Dirk Hoke, defence and space head at Airbus, told Reuters. “We’re at a critical juncture to ensure we stay in the top league.”
The aim of the new legislation and regulations is to limit financial and legal liability for German private companies in the case of an accident; establish standards for commercial space operations, and encourage innovation and investment in Germany’s nascent New Space sector.
For many German space business owners and engineers, the new legislation and regulations cannot come soon enough.
“It’s a global market. We have our customers and we will keep them, even if we have to run the company from somewhere else,” said Walter Ballheimer, CEO of German Orbital Systems, a Berlin-based start-up that builds small satellites.
“Germany was overtaken a long time ago,” Ballheimer said. “But it’s not too late. If they are courageous enough and adopt a clear space policy … then we can still have a piece of the cake that we should have as a leading export nation.”
Germany is Europe’s largest economy – and the fourth largest in the world – but ranks eighth in the world when it comes to space spending. The new legislation and regulations drafted by the Ministry of Economy are designed to ensure that German space industry is able to exploit a larger share of global space expenditure and revenues, that some believe may be worth more than U.S.$1 trillion by the 2040’s.
“We are aiming for a lean basic law that is open to the future,” said a spokeswoman for Thomas Jarzombek, the Ministry of Economy’s commissioner for aerospace and space who is leading the legislative and regulatory drafting process. “A national space law should focus above all on incentives and make it possible for the German space industry to play a bigger role in global developments.”