Sovereignty means self-responsibility and self-determination of a state. It requires governmental institutions to function independently. Space technology provides policymakers and administration with a unique instrument to make informed decisions, thus acting as an important guarantor of Germany’s sovereignty.
Space science and technology strengthens our country’s position in the European Union and in the international community of nations. In order to live up to our role, the German space industry requires a high level technological and scientific system competence. This is assured by the National Space Programme.
Sovereign governance requires permanent and unhindered access to independent, up-to-date and verifiable status information. In the current information age, with a huge amount of information, often unverified and being disseminated on a global scale at a great speed, this capability becomes increasingly important.
Satellites for Earth observation, communication and navigation deliver this information to governments at federal and state level, public authorities as well as civilian and military response forces. German Earth observation satellites provide information for urban and transport planning, climate policy enforcement and disaster management.
Earth observation data from space offer up-to-date and uncorrupted high-resolution information on otherwise inaccessible parts of the world from a global perspective. Satellite communication not only provides Germany with multi-media communication but also acts as a mission-critical data link for response and operational forces abroad.
Sovereignty means independence, not autarchy. Some specific areas of space technology that are necessary to guarantee independent government action but which exceed a single country’s capabilities are addressed within European co-operation structures. Germany is strongly engaged in the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and in various space programmes conducted by the European Union (EU).
Launchers are an indispensable component of independent space activities. It is launchers that enable a country to exercise its "extended" sovereignty and conduct its own satellite programmes. Therefore, together with its ESA partners, Germany pursues the goal of securing Europe’s access to space on a long-term basis. Access will be provided by the launcher systems Ariane-5, Soyuz and Vega based at Europe’s own spaceport in Kourou.
Another example for a common interest pursued within the EU is Europe’s satellite navigation system, Galileo. This EU programme will help Germany and Europe achieve independence from the navigation systems of other states, which are under military control.
To build the necessary space-based systems, Germany needs a competent space industry and research institutions. This is why the Space Administration uses some of its funds to shore up key industrial capabilities. These include, for example, the design and construction of rocket upper stages, space instruments, or so-called satellite buses or satellite chassis.
The Space Administration offers funding both to large system integrators as well as to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Within the framework of the German Space Programme. Funding is awarded both to current and next-generation scientists participating in national, European and multilateral programmes. ESA selects its scientific missions according to the ‘best science’ principle. The required innovative scientific payloads are developed under the various national space programmes.