The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has found approval in the federal government for its plan for a space train station in the North Sea. At a BDI event on Monday, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier announced a “New Space Small Satellite Initiative” aimed at strengthening the German space industry.
The BDI event “From the North Sea into space: the dawn of a new era in European space travel” is intended to be the prelude to the implementation of a launch platform in the North Sea from which small satellites are to be transported into space with micro launchers. To this end, German companies from the aerospace and maritime sectors founded the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance (GOSA) at the end of 2020. At the BDI event, European rocket manufacturers and GOSA signed declarations of cooperation.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs reported that more than 15,000 satellites will be launched in this decade, 90 percent of which will be small satellites. This area therefore offers important growth opportunities for German industry. “The chances that German companies will be at the forefront of these innovations are good. We must use this good starting position and expand it in a targeted manner,” said Altmaier.
Bremen and Bremerhaven
In October 2020, the federal government had not yet been able to fully endorse a German spaceport on the North Sea. In a response to a request from the FDP parliamentary group on the subject (PDF), an evaluation of the idea of an offshore launch platform or a spaceport for microlauncher was not yet possible.
In December 2020 there was talk of Bremen and Bremerhaven being suitable locations: Bremen with its space industry and Bremerhaven as one of the largest ports in Europe, which has made a name for itself in offshore wind energy through location concepts. The next step is now a feasibility study, half of which is financed by the federal government. The aim is to clarify legal and regulatory issues relating to a launch platform.
Tractebel DOC Offshore, which operates maritime projects, MediaMobil, which specializes in offshore communication, the space company OHB, BLG Logistics, the shipping company Harren & Partner and the insurance company Lampe & Schwarze are all participating in GOSA. So far, the plans provide for a special ship to be loaded with a rocket and its payload, to go out to sea and launch the rocket there.