Germany should try to send an astronaut to the moon as a part of the US-led mission in 2024, according to the influential BDI business association. It wants the state to ensure conditions for a "private spaceport."
A "massive" boost in state investment is needed for Germany to keep up with space technology, members of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) said on Friday.
"The strength of Germany as a high-tech country is not reflected in the state investment into space travel," BDI chair Dieter Kempf said in a press release.
Germany, according to Kempf, invests only €285 million ($317.5 million) per year into its space program, or about 0.05% of the national economic output. France invests more than double that amount. In order to keep step with space technology as it grows ever-more commercial, Berlin should at least match the French level of spending, Kempf said.
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German spaceport and German rockets
This recommendation is one of eight points listed in the BDI's "Berlin Space Declaration" presented during the "Space Congress" event in the German capital. The gathering brings together politicians, industrialists, BDI representatives, and even astronauts. The leader of the European Space Agency, Jan Wörner, also attended the Friday event.
The BDI also urges the German government to create conditions for building a private cosmodrome on German soil. Politicians should facilitate the development of a German-made cargo rocket that would be capable of carrying minor loads into space.
"If Germany does not create these possibilities, other European countries will create new systems," said the BDI's Kempf.
'One small step for Germany'
Another point of the "Berlin Space Declaration" urges Germany to send an astronaut to the moon. The move would be achieved in cooperation with the US, where NASA is already working on a mission to once again land humans on the moon by 2024.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who attended the Berlin congress, was reluctant to pledge a windfall in state funding.
"I cannot promise you that we will move many extra billions," he was quoted by the news agency dpa as saying. "But I can promise you this: we will place this subject in the center of the public debate."
Laws for space mining
German businesses believe that space technology and space travel are becoming more and more commercialized. This development has already been dubbed "New Space."
The BDI noted that some concepts of commercial space exploration, such as exploiting raw materials from other planets or asteroids, are still beyond humanity's reach. However, "based on rapid technological innovation, the production of raw materials in space is edging into the realm of possibility," the association said.
The association of German businesses urged a system of international regulations for future space mining.