Above all these private companies is the European Space Agency (ESA), an organization composed of 22 member countries with a total budget of 5.7 Billion Euros (6.3 billion dollars) for 2019.
After France, the German government is its second largest monetary contributor.
Thanks to this, Germany was able to obtain two gifts: the ESA Mission Control in Darmstadt and the astronaut training center in Cologne.
This year alone, his contribution to ESA was 927 million euros.
On the other hand, Germany spends an additional € 285 million on space programs. This may seem like a lot, but it is a misery compared to the 726 million euros of France.
In general, Germany only spends 0.05% of GDP on these programs, behind India, Italy, Japan, China, Russia, France and the United States, which spend 0.224%, according to the Goldman European Space Policy Institute Sachs.
Tom Segert, business and strategy director of the startup Berlin Space Technologies, is one of those who see the change coming.
“We are living in a time when the great players of Germany, but also the smallest, are waking up. They realize that something big is going to happen,” he told DW.
In Germany, “we have the technology, but we don’t have the demand,” Segert said, noting the fact that these conglomerates are working on large international projects and building large satellites, although not the smaller ones that companies really want.
This is the niche that Berlin Space Technologies wants to attack.
Founded in 2010 by three friends, the company now has 29 employees working on the design of small satellite systems (from the size of a microwave to a washing machine) and the technology that supports them.
So far, the company has participated in more than 50 space missions.
The manufacture of a prototype can take between 1 and 2 years. But the company wants to move from individual satellites to mass manufacturing, and for this it has created a joint venture in India.
Thus, the construction time can be reduced to one or two weeks, also reducing costs.
In general, Segert thinks that for most companies, satellite construction is a waste of resources. Instead, they should focus on services and data. ” European startups benefit because they are getting the data for free (from NASA or ESA).”
At the same time, industrial associations are pressing Germany to build its own spaceport or launch center. Not necessarily a large one to send humans into space, but one that allows companies to launch rockets and satellites without relying on other countries.
Today, only a handful of countries have this capability.
New technologies that use satellites include better communications, weather forecasts and navigation. Space images can be used to monitor coral reefs, forests, water levels, fires or natural disasters.
They can also monitor pipelines, trains and power lines.
These images can be used to learn more about the Earth and global warming. Contributions such as batteries, ceramics, solar technologies, autonomous driving and the use of light metals have advanced thanks to space innovations.
However, for Segert the future of space business in Germany is not clear, it can go in two directions: the first would be a model in which the government spends increasing amounts of money to keep the big players that affect the market alive Without making real progress.
In the second, the government, taxpayers and companies would realize that things have not been done in the most efficient way.
The government will stop manufacturing satellites and become a service consumer.
This would lead to a decrease in manufacturing and satellite costs. Thus, attention would be in the data, the gold of the 21st century.
Now, 50 years after the first moon landing, the real test will be to see if governments will create the legal framework that regulates the space and let the market take over by giving consumers what they want.