German offshore launch site for small rockets takes decisive hurdle

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OHB Press Release, 16. Dezember 2020:

Bremen, 16 December 2020. Plans to implement a German spaceport are becoming more concrete. Several partners agree to work together to realise rocket launches from the German North Sea by 2023 at the latest.

In the digital age, space is the key to future technologies such as autonomous driving, Industry 4.0 and Big Data applications. Space is also indispensable for the foreign and security policy as well as climate protection. However, space has also diversified in recent years, many new business models have emerged. Startups, in particular, are experiencing a “boom” relating to both small and nano satellites. The fact that these applications are of great interest to the entire German industrial value chain is shown by the commitment of the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der deutschen Industrie – BDI) to the New Space sector.


German-Offshore-Spaceport-Alliance GmbH

In Germany there are three manufacturers of small rockets, so-called microlaunchers, which will access the market in 2021/22. This makes Germany the European leader in this field. A launch facility for small launchers in Germany is the necessary system component for testing German technologies and placing them on the market, for launching small satellites into space, for operating them and for using them for a variety of purposes. A launch site for small launch vehicles completes the New Space ecosystem, which is unique in Europe in this form.


The German Offshore Spaceport Alliance GmbH (GOSA) is now to act as the operating company for the required launch facility. GOSA was founded in Bremen, which has supported the idea of a launch site from the beginning. In addition to the shipping group Harren & Partner, the initiative was launched by the OHB Group, MediaMobil GmbH and Tractebel DOC Offshore GmbH; the insurance specialist Lampe & Schwartze and the logistics service provider BLG are also involved as strategic partners. The company would like to offer cooperation to other strategic partners, both as a shareholder and through an expert advisory board.

Kristina Vogt, Senator for Economics, Labour and Europe, said: “We are very pleased to be able to combine our strong space expertise in Bremen with the maritime expertise in Bremerhaven. The German Offshore Spaceport Alliance thus opens up a completely new chapter in German spaceflight. This new connection between two distinctive innovation clusters in Bremen and Bremerhaven is an impressive demonstration of the success of Bremen’s innovation policy. It focuses on innovative development in industry and links this with new key technologies such as artificial intelligence. That’s why we also co-financed the first steps towards implementing a German spaceport.”


The German Offshore Spaceport Alliance will now start work quickly and first further define the concept of the spaceport. This also requires an exchange with the three microlauncher manufacturers, who are to be won as initial and anchor customers. Oliver Spalthoff, Managing Director of Tractebel DOC Offshore, has been involved with studies on the spaceport for several months now: “Of course, we also think outside the box and draw inspiration from concepts of other maritime missile bases. However, in the case of the German offshore spaceport project, it was clear from the very beginning that we wanted to try to optimise costs as much as possible, and we continue to be guided by this. Nevertheless, there are a few requirements in terms of safety and environmental aspects, for example, where we will not look at the price tag first. For that, we need the expertise of the rocket builders.” Although the spaceport is currently driven largely by the needs of German companies, it will also be open to other rocket manufacturers when in operation, and as a European launch site it will also be usable for institutional missions of the European Commission.

The Bremen-based shipping group Harren & Partner currently manages around 90 units and owns SAL Engineering, one of the largest and most innovative maritime engineering firms in the world. “We have been transporting launchers and the associated accessories with our heavy-lift vessels for decades – among others on behalf of EADS, now Airbus or Sea Launch,” says Managing Director Heiko Felderhoff. “We use the ‘roll on/roll off’ method, in which the cargo is driven onto the ship with special equipment.” Managing Director Dr Martin Harren adds, “We have experienced engineers from all disciplines of maritime engineering and have a diversified fleet of highly specialised offshore vessels. I am pleased and proud that we can bring our experience in offshore and maritime transport solutions to the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundeswirtschaftsministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie) is reviewing the next steps and the necessary approvals, with results of these reviews expected soon.

Link to OHB Website.

German Offshore Spaceport Alliance
Lise-Meitner-Straße 2
28359 Bremen
Tel: +49 (0) 421-22095-55

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