Infinite expanses?

Infinite expanses?

Billion-dollar space market: Foreign Policy Lunch with Major General Michael Traut

Infinite expanses? The picture is deceptive, at least when looking at near-Earth space. Over 25,000 objects, at least the size of tennis balls, race around the earth at around 7.5 kilometers per second. The number of smaller objects is in the millions.

Together, they endanger the 6,000 or so active satellites orbiting our planet. Michael Traut reports that these satellites - as well as the International Space Station ISS - have to be maneuvered more and more frequently to avoid colliding with debris and, in the worst case, being destroyed.

The commander of the German Armed Forces Space Command was the keynote speaker at an edition of our Foreign Policy Lunch. In his presentation "The space race - security or danger for Europe", the Major General explained that the main problem is that our modern society is highly dependent on the use of satellites: navigation systems, financial markets and weather services all require space-based services such as GPS in order to function. The same applies to military applications such as reconnaissance or - in an emergency - missile defense. "The safe use of space is therefore a task for the entire state as part of national security provision," said Traut.

You can find a picture gallery of the event here. 

Anyone who thinks that the use of space is strictly regulated is wrong. On the contrary, Major General Traut compares space to the "Wild West" and speaks of a "gold-rush atmosphere". A real race has broken out, but without much European involvement. Between 2019 and 2021, the European space industry generated sales of over 682 million euros - just 2% of the global market, which is mainly dominated by the USA and China. The company Starlink (Elon Musk) now operates around a third of all active satellites, making it more difficult for other companies and countries to operate their own satellites. Conflicts (of interest) are already the order of the day. Rules, e.g. who is allowed to operate how many satellites, which satellite has to take evasive action in case of doubt, or how satellites are disposed of at the end of their life, are either non-existent or only exist on paper.

In 2021 - two years after the USA - the Bundeswehr responded by establishing its own space command to ensure its ability to lead and act in space. The range of tasks extends from the creation of military intelligence situations to the planning and execution of space operations - e.g. jamming or destroying satellites - and ensuring operational and tactical connectivity with international alliance capabilities. This is because the sustainable civil and military use of space and the guarantee of space security require more joint action and new forms of cooperation, said Major General Traut at the end of his presentation.


To the picture gallery: Please click here>

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