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German Space Agencies

Under a major governmental restructuring in 1989-1990, a new German space agency, DARA (Deutsche Agentur fur Raumfahrtangelegenheiten) GmbH, was created and seven national space goals were established:

DARA, which assumed and consolidated the activities of the former West and East German space agencies, is headed by a Director General and is staffed by a group of only about 285 personnel. The founding Director General of DARA, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wild, retired in the Fall of 1993 and was replaced on 1 October by Dr. Jan-Baldem Mennicken, former Chairman of DARA's Supervisory Board and member of the Ministry for Research and Technology. National long-range planning and oversight of DARA is achieved by the Cabinet Committee and the State Secretary's Committee formed by representatives of seven ministries and the Federal Chancellery. With its limited resources, DARA is largely restricted to policy and top level management tasks (Reference 19). During 1993-1994 DARA underwent an internal reorganization emerging with four major technical directorates: (1) Space Science and Infrastructure System, (2) Earth Observation and Telecommunications,(3) Industrial Affairs and Engineering, and (4) Budget and Strategic Planning.

While DARA is instrumental in establishing space policy and goals and is the interface with ESA, the German Aerospace Research Establishment (DLR, Deutsche Forshungsanstalt fur Luft and Raumfahrt) conducts the technical and scientific research and performs the operational support required to implement that policy. DLR was formed in 1969 with the merger of national aerospace research and test organizations as DFVLR but was reorganized and renamed in 1989 at the time DARA was created. One of the consequences of this reorganization was the transfer of major program management functions from DLR to DARA.

With approximately 4,700 personnel led by Chairman Walter Kroell, DLR is involved in a broad spectrum of basic and applications research in addition to operations, and as the name implies the organization's charter includes activities which are not space-related. In fact, these non-space endeavors account for approximately one half of the annual DLR budget. Headquartered in Cologne, DLR is divided into six major directorates: (1) Flight Mechanics and Guidance and Control, (2) Fluid Mechanics,(3) Materials and Structures, (4) Energetics, (5) Telecommunications Technology and Remote Sensing, and (6) Scientific-Technical Facilities (Reference 20).

DLR operates major research centers in Braunschweig, Cologne-Porz, Gottingen, Oberpfaffenhofen, and Stuttgart. Oberpfaffenhofen is the home of the German Space Operations Center which has supported numerous national, ESA, and bi-lateral space missions for more than 20 years. Nearby are DLR's Manned Space Laboratories Control Center, User Data Center, and Automation in Orbit Center. The Crew Training Complex and the Microgravity User Support Center are located in Cologne-Porz. Germany is also the site of two of ESA's four major space centers: the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt and the new European Astronauts Center in Cologne.

Although Germany lacks a domestic space transportation system or launch facility, the nation is the only non-Russian European country to possess credible, albeit limited, space surveillance capability. The German Defense Research Organization (FGAN, Forschungsgesellschaft fur Angewandte Naturwissenschaften) operates the High Power Radar System consisting of a 34-m diameter dish antenna, an L-band tracking radar, and aKu-band imaging radar. Located at Wachtbeg Werthoven outside Bonn and housed within a 49-m diameter radome, this system can perform selected observations on objects in Earth orbit (Reference 21).

The nature of the German aerospace industry changed significantly at the beginning of the decade when the formation of Deutsche Aerospace (DASA) brought together some of the most influential space manufacturing firms. DASA's four subsidiaries are now Dornier(unmanned and manned space systems),Messershmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB; spacecraft, subsystems, and ground support equipment), Motoren- und Turbinen-Union (MTU;propulsion), and Telefunken Systemtechnik (subsystems, materials). As noted in the previous section, the Space Systems Group of DASA may merge with Aerospatiale in the near future. Other important aerospace companies include ANT Nachrichtentechnik GmbH (communications spacecraft, subsystems),MAN Technologie (space vehicle engineering), and Siemens (communications, subsystems). The firm Kayser-Threde GmbH specializes inmicrogravity research and is a major facilitator in the European exploitation of Russian space technology.

The German national budget for space activities grew slightly in 1993 to 1.8 billion Deutsche Marks but fell back to 1.6 billion Deutsche Marks in 1994. Moreover, slightly more than two-thirds of the 1994 appropriation was designated as Germany's contribution to ESA. Space Science commands the highest priority of the basic technical disciplines. Surprisingly, Germany's military space budget, which to date has been exceedingly minor, may soon rival the civilian budget with a projected 10 billion Deutsche marks spent over the 1995-2004 period (References 19, 22-24).


19. Raumfahrt-fur die Erde ins All, DARA, Geschaftsbericht, 1993.

20. A Look At the Future, DLR, Cologne-Porz, April 1991.

21. D. Mehrholz, "Space Object Observation with Radar", Paper B.8-M.1.03, World Space Congress, Augus-September 1992.

22. P.B. de Selding, DARA Slices Staff, Resources Due to Sluggish Economy", Space News, 7-13 March 1993, p. 14.

23. G. de Briganti, "Germany Poised To Bankroll Military Space", Space News. 17-23 October 1994, pp. 1, 20.

24. G.D. Ojalehto and H.R. Hertzefeld, "Nations Aim High Despite Falling Budgets", Aerospace America, July 1995, pp. 4-7, 40-41.

Sources and Resources

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