Don’t Spend on Space

With German’s election bringing more power to the Greens (Bündnis 90 / die Grünen) and the Liberal Democrats (FDP). I would like to address them directly as they effectively the kingmakers and will wield powerful influence on the future of the German space industry.

In this open letter you will find my post election recommendations:

Dear Green party dear FDP, please do what is in your power to stop the practice of spending on space. Instead of “space spending” we need to get to a government that invests its funds on solutions for specific societal tasks. All expenditure thus needs to be focused on solving problems. If our industry can contribute to those, great. Otherwise, don’t spend on space.

1) Don’t spend on space – spend on solutions

I expect that in the course of the coming weeks many of the usual suspects will be knocking on your door asking for the usual things: increase of space budget in general and doubling of the national space budget in particular. I recommend to kick out those who come forward with these types of requests. Alternatively, when such request is brought forward, ask what those who ask for money can do to address the pressing matters of the nation.

2) If somebody starts their discussion with a request to increase the (national) space budget – kick them right out

It should be easy to answer: why this money should be spend on them. My prediction is however the answers will run along the following lines: space spending creates jobs or for every EUR spend in space 10x numbers of EUR will be generated. While these seem compelling at first they are bad advisors for the value of space. In general they are only brought forward if the inherent value is uncertain.

3) Jobs created or EUR multiplier are only used when inherent value is uncertain.

The truth is most people involved in space will be bad in telling you why it needs to be done. This is not uncommon in other industries as well. You may have noticed that you rarely will ask the taxi driver to show you around, you will have to set a destination yourself. Therefore, without vision, without goals and without applications anything that we do in space is meaningless.

On the importance of vision

Dear Green party, I know that you traditionally fought hard battles to find their stance towards space. Keep this on. It is important to ask the question of why. Germany is spending more than 1 billion EUR per year on space activities. This money could very well be spent on other things, too and so it is very important to have right goals to justify this expenditure.

Read More: More Bang for your Buck

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of good reasons to use space as a tool: you want to observe and potentially mitigate the human made climate catastrophe, identify potential threats to our nation, learn about the wonders of the universe. All of these are good and there are many others. Once you have defined these goals you will be in a better position to request the industry to deliver more for less.

Spin-Off, Lever Spending, Job’s Created are just smoke and mirrors.

There are good and bad justification to do space activities. Lack of vision leads worse kind. As a historical example I would like to point out that the idea of Spin-Off technologies from the space industry was created at a time when NASA had lost its direction and purpose. In the mid 1970s, unsure how to justify its continued existence (and high stake government spending) after Apollo had ended, NASA invented the fairy tale of the spin-off technologies that came because – you know – space spending.

Read More: Spin-Off’s the Obsession of the Space Industry

Further along came benchmarks of levers spending (how many EUR generated by one EUR spent on space) as well of how many jobs are created. All of these are smoke and mirror created by a bureaucratic monster that feared the end of its own existence. Don’t you think we as a nation can do better? With your expertise to question the why you are in the best position, to set proper goals and make the space industry the tool that delivers those.

The wrong kind of economic system

Dear FDP wouldn’t it be a very good goal to apply the rules of the market economy to the space industry? I for one, am always puzzled how in Germany, despite our first hand experience with the failures of planned economy, space can still get away with it.

Read More: Beggar or Don – the two faces of the space industry

Aren’t you tired that you continue to meet only two kind of space people; the one that begs you to give them money and the other that demands it? If so, then now is the time to kick them out and re-align the rules of business.

In a working market innovation should be a driving force. In space it is not.

In addition, how do you think about the fact that the space industry has developed into a market in which it does not pay to innovate?

Read More: Innovation does not pay

It can’t be in your interest that companies that invest in cost effective production are effectively excluded from business. This is a direct result on the rules that were set by the agencies that we as a nation trust our budget with. To make innovation and competitiveness once again a hallmark of the industry would be a worthy cause, will you rally behind it?


In the coming weeks the trajectory of the space industry will be defined for the next 4 years. The kingmakers of Green Party and FDP have the unique opportunity to shape policy and align it with their strategic goals. I personally hope they will seize it.

How can you help:

This text is part of a series of articles in which the author sets the framework to start a discussion about the wrongs of the space industry. If you have experienced similar things, leave a comment. Other views and opinions are very welcome, too, as they may present a way forward. Please be kind to each other.


The author’s views are his own do not represent the views of Berlin Space Technologies.






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