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Germany hurries to catch up in space race

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Germany hurries to catch up in space race

Germany hurries to catch up in space race

Germany is worried it's fallen behind in the space race.

Now it's hurrying to catch up with new laws and incentives aimed at helping the country's private-sector space industry.

Julian Satterthwaite reports.

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Germany hurries to catch up in space race

Germany fears it is getting left behind in the space race.

Berlin now in a hurry to draft new laws after seeing a brain drain of top talent in the sector.

It's afraid of missing out on an emerging space market that could be worth one trillion dollars a year by the 2040s.

Central to that, the prospect of mining asteroids and the moon.

The US already passed a law in 2015 allowing firms to claim resources they find in space.

Germany is a long way behind, legally and financially.

It spends about $1.1 billion a year on space activity.

The U.S. spends about forty times as much.

Berlin's new move isn't about raising government spending though.

It's about enabling the private sector.

Airbus likely a big beneficiary.

It co-owns European rocket builder Ariane: (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR PARENT COMPANY ARIANE GROUP, MATHIAS SPUDE, SAYING: "We want to conquer the commercial market when it wakes up, which we expect in two to three years.

We will be on the market with a rocket that is 40 percent cheaper, and will continue to reduce costs after that.

We are very hopeful and we already have the first few contracts." Germany's revised laws will offer incentives for new projects.

They will also limit the liabilities of firms that have accidents in orbit.

NASA's ambitions might actually offer one lifeline.

The space agency has accelerated its return-to-the-moon programme.

It aims to have people back on lunar soil by 2024.

Airbus units already build much of the gear that will be needed.

The real riches may not be in making the tech though.

They could go to the first firm that figures out how to plunder space for mineral riches.




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