German, American space agencies sign agreement | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 09.12.2010
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German, American space agencies sign agreement

The two countries pledge expansion of collaborative research. NASA also agrees to make Germany an associate partner in its Lunar Science Institute in California.

The agreement was signed in Washington, D.C.

The idea is to cooperate more joint operations and research

In an agreement signed in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, the German space agency, better known by its German acronym DLR, and its American counterpart, NASA, agreed to cooperate more fully on joint operations, planetary observations, and other forms of space science.

The move comes just a week after the German government outlined its new space strategy, where it said Germany would expand public investments in space science from its current 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) annually to 1.4 billion euros by 2014.

That policy also underscored increased collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), where Germany is currently the second-largest funder nation after France.

"Many space missions and projects can only be carried out through international cooperation, with NASA for example, because of their complexity and the associated costs," said Johann-Dietrich Worner, DLR's chairman, in a statement posted to the DLR's website.

"This is why DLR, as Germany's national space agency and research Center, is endeavoring to set up bilateral collaborations such as this, in addition to its other commitments."

His American counterpart was equally positive on the new agreement.

"NASA has a long history of successful cooperation with the government of Germany and an outstanding relationship with DLR," said Charles Bolden, NASA's administrator, in a statement posted to NASA's website.

"Today's signing will further enhance our ability to work closely together in a variety of mutually beneficial activities in virtually every NASA mission area."

Germany to continue lunar focus

Moon at night

One German official called the moon "the most important goal"

In the same deal, NASA also agreed to make the DLR a NASA Lunar Science Institute associate partner. The institute, which is based in northern California, brings together moon specialists from around the globe to collaborate on their research.

Germany's new policy also abandons the moon as a solo national goal, but plans on continuing further study as part of European Space Agency (ESA), and now NASA, projects.

Almost four years ago, German government officials had previously announced plans for a 2013 moon flight, and in 2009, another government official called for an unmanned moon mission in 2015.

"The moon is for us, the most important goal for the next 20 years," said Hubert Reile, aerospace director of the DLR, in an interview with the German press agency, DPA.

Author: Cyrus Farivar (dpa, EPD)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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