8. Germany

Germany is one of the leading space actors in Europe together with France in terms of contributions to the European Space Agency. The country hosts the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites and the European Southern Observatory, as well as the European Space Agency’s Space Operations Centre.

In 2022, Germany’s institutional space budget reached USD 1 839.5 million (EUR 1 749.2 million), having grown 0.8% yearly since 2015 in real terms. Fifty-eight percent of the funding was allocated to the European Space Agency (most of which returns to Germany as contracts to academia and industry), as part of the Organisation’s rule for geographic return), with another 5% dedicated to Eumetsat. The rest was reserved for national activities or smaller international programmes. Key programmes include launchers; human spaceflight and exploration; and earth observation (Figure 8.1). Overall, the institutional space budget accounted for 0.045% of the German gross domestic product in 2022.

A new national strategy was introduced in 2023 after an extensive consultation process involving stakeholders in research, industry and civil society as well as other government ministries. The strategy identifies nine fields of action, notably 1) European and international cooperation; 2) space high-tech and “new space” industry segments as markets of growth; 3) climate change, resources and environmental protection; 4) digitalisation, data and downstream; 5) security, strategic ability to act and global stability; 6) Sustainable use of space; 7) space science; 8) international space exploration; and finally, 9) space activities in “dialogue” with society and talent recruitment. New initiatives include for instance the suggested introduction of competitive launcher development in Europe, and a Space Innovation Hub to match public sector needs with private sector capabilities.

According to data from the German Aerospace Industry Association (BDLI), the German space manufacturing industry generated USD 2.8 billion (EUR 2.4 billion) in revenues in 2021, numbering 9 000 employees. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has launched its own survey to complement existing data and comprehensively map the German space sector.

In the 2016-20 period, Germany was the fifth applicant for patents in space-related technologies worldwide, accounting for 8% of applications, as shown in Figure 8.2. A majority of applications were filed by private firms (76.9%).

Based on the data in the OECD Development Assistance Committee Creditor Reporting System database, Germany was among the OECD top-ten country donors in space-related official development assistance over the 2002-21 period, with a total of 40.3 million constant US dollars committed (Figure 8.3). Commitments mainly focused on environmental protection (biodiversity) and rural capacity building, generally within the framework of the Group on Earth Observations. The biggest beneficiary region was Oceania, followed by “developing countries unspecified” and sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of scientific output and excellence (Table 8.2), OECD indicators for scientific production, international co-authorships and citations in space-related scientific journal categories (aerospace engineering; astronomy; atmospheric science; and space and planetary science), show that authors at Germany-affiliated institutions performed above the OECD average for top-cited publications and publication outputs in the journal categories “Astronomy” and “Space and planetary science”, and ranking high on international co-authorships overall.


BDLI (2022), Annual Report 2021: German Aerospace Industry Figures, https://www.bdli.de/sites/default/files/2022-06/Branchendaten_2021_E_1.pdf.

OECD, STI Micro-data Lab: Intellectual Property Database, http://oe.cd/ipstats, June 2023.

OECD (2023), “Creditor Reporting System (CRS)", OECD.stat (database), https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=CRS1 (accessed on 24 April 2023).

Scopus Custom Data, Elsevier, Version 1.2023.

Union of Concerned Scientists (2023), UCS Satellite Database, 1 January 2023 version, data extracted 27 July 2023, https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/satellite-database.

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