The Controversy over the German Law on Outer Space

3rd May 2021
Rocket Factory Augsburg ONE Launcher

The law for space applications cannot be agreed upon for a long time. This is because the Ministries of Economy and Finance cannot come to a single point of view. This has a negative impact not only on a variety of startups but also on German taxpayers. The Law on Space was included in the Federal Union and SPD’s coalition agreement in the spring of 2018 to ensure investment and legal security of non-state space activities.

You might think the grand coalition realised earlier that Germany’s high-tech region needed a space law to provide the emerging space industry with a legal basis and to limit claims for damages to German taxpayers in the aftermath of accidents or collisions.

According to the information, the Federal Ministry of Economy is currently coordinating the key points of the space law with other departments and industry representatives. However, there has not been a deadline put in place for the final decision and the question of whether they will set the mentioned date before the elections raises doubts. It is stated, that Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants the federal government to withhold from paying private companies for damage caused by rockets or satellites.

The Main Nuances in the Adoption of the Space Law

Due to the law on outer space, Scholz will also have potential damage to taxpayers. According to the limit of liability, the responsible company will have to pay for any damages. On the other hand, he fears that space companies, in particular, could be disadvantaged by the lack of a base. However, this is currently not regulated.

Requirements

These include approval procedures, liability, insurance and space debris requirements. Walter Pelzer of the German Space Agency argues that a balance must be found. On the one hand, appropriate liability risk for the company and the corresponding insurance costs. On the other hand, an acceptable burden for the federal government. With this in mind, space expert Matthias Wachter of the Federation of German Industry calls for “limiting the liability of competitors to promote investment and innovation.”

Stefan Hobe, director of the Institute for Air, Space and Cyber ​​Law at the University of Cologne, says that the country is a disaster since it has a good space industry that has always remained well below its potential.

Why is Debugging not Considered a Problem for Everyone?

Nonetheless, German rocket startups, especially ISAR Aerospace and Rocket Factory Augsburg are in no rush. This is also the opinion of Jorn Spurmann, general manager of the Augsburg rocket factory. It is even more beneficial for German startups, he argues. The German state is currently fully responsible for the damage that startups cause to third parties.

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