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Germany supports USD 2 bn EO mission

Paris: The German government has indicated that it will be able to contribute just as much to Europe’s space programme as it did in 2008, and perhaps a bit more, the head of Germany’s space agency said. More specifically, Germany’s de facto space minister has told the European Space Agency (ESA) that Germany is fully behind a planned USD 2 billion, four-year investment in earth observation missions, ESA’s earth observation director said.

In a press briefing during the IGARSS in Munich, Johann Dietrich Woerner, head of the German Aerospace Center, DLR, said it is becoming clearer that Germany intends no reduction in its ESA engagement this year.

Italy and Spain are ESA’s third- and fifth-largest contributors, respectively, with a combined 18.4 percent of the agency’s total member-state commitments.

Woerner said Germany, which vies with France for the title of ESA’s largest contributor, in recent years has raised its profile at the agency. At the November 2008 ministerial conference, Germany accounted for 27 percent of the 10 billion euros (USD 12.5 billion) that were committed to ESA programmes.

Woerner said there is no talk of cutting Germany’s contribution at this year’s conference, and that there is some hope for a slight increase.

Volker Liebig, ESA’s Earth observation director said that Peter Hintze, Germany’s parliamentary state secretary, gave specific assurances that Germany would maintain its support for what ESA calls its Earth Observation Envelope Program, which funds the agency’s Explorer missions.

Woerner used the occasion to highlight Germany’s continued ambitions in earth observation both through ESA and through DLR’s national program. He said an L-band radar system to complement the X-band radar aboard Germany’s TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar spacecraft, both in orbit, is being studied.

Source: Space News