© German Space Agency at DLR
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Issue 42

Dr Walther Pelzer,
DLR Executive Board Member and Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR

Dear reader,

An extremely eventful year for spaceflight came to an end with the 2022 ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in Paris. Germany remains a central partner in European space activities and has commited 3.5 billion euros (mixed economic terms) to space programmes and projects up to 2025. Together, the 22 ESA Member States commit to a total funding of 16.9 billion euros. This council meeting of European space nations will live long in my memory. Not only was the German delegation, headed by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, and Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, Anna Christmann, represented at an extremely high level, but Germany will now hold the ESA Council Presidency for the next three years and host the next Ministerial Council at the end of 2025.

Spaceflight is now at the very heart of society. It is strategically relevant – for science, technology, the economy and security policy. The war in Ukraine and other crises have shown us that we are living in a new era and that we must strengthen international cooperation, not weaken it. Here, too, space and space technologies play a key role. That is why we urgently need a new German space strategy that reflects current developments and circumstances. The Federal Government has recognised this and commissioned us to develop and prepare this new strategy. I would like to take this opportunity to mention some of the concepts that will play essential roles: New Space, commercialisation, sustainability, climate and environmental protection, space as critical infrastructure, security, strategic technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum encryption, space policy, the strategic orientation of ESA, EU and German space programme, and the future of the launcher industry. This issue is of particular importance: with the launch of the last Ariane 5 expected in June 2023, a successful chapter in Europe’s independent access to space will come to an end. But until the first flight of Ariane 6, Europe’s new heavy-lift rocket, there will be a vacuum that we must fill as quickly as possible.

As always, I hope you enjoy reading this issue of COUNTDOWN.

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