News › Fraun­ho­fer IOF • New space stra­tegy of the Ger­man government

State­ment: Fraun­ho­fer IOF Insti­tute Direc­tor Andreas Tün­ner­mann wel­co­mes important step for natio­nal space research

This week, the ger­man fede­ral govern­ment has appro­ved the new space stra­tegy. Andreas Tün­ner­mann, Direc­tor of the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­cis­ion Engi­nee­ring IOF and Chair of Applied Phy­sics at Fried­rich Schil­ler Uni­ver­sity Jena, wel­co­mes the new stra­tegy as an »important step for natio­nal space rese­arch«. He expects that espe­ci­ally the inno­va­tion eco­sys­tem at the pho­to­nics loca­tion Jena »will make rele­vant con­tri­bu­ti­ons to the imple­men­ta­tion of the new space strategy«.

Andreas Tün­ner­mann: »As a rese­arch insti­tute with a rele­vant focus on the deve­lo­p­ment of pho­to­nic tech­no­lo­gies for space appli­ca­ti­ons, we very much wel­come the Ger­man government’s new space stra­tegy. The decis­ion is an important step for natio­nal space rese­arch. It opens new doors towards a future, with a fore­sigh­ted per­spec­tive in mind, to find ans­wers to chal­lenges that are right on our door­step – cli­mate change, for example.

Espe­ci­ally here in Jena, we find an inno­va­tion eco­sys­tem that will make rele­vant con­tri­bu­ti­ons to the imple­men­ta­tion of the new space stra­tegy. The city has been a world-class optics and pho­to­nics loca­tion for 200 years. Space has always been a place of lon­ging for rese­arch and sci­ence. Fraun­ho­fer IOF, as well as other rese­arch insti­tu­tes, glo­bally ope­ra­ting com­pa­nies and emer­ging start­ups con­tri­bute to the deve­lo­p­ment of inno­va­tions for earth obser­va­tion and astro­nomy based on new tech­no­lo­gi­cal approa­ches, such as free­form or nano optics. Fraun­ho­fer IOF in par­ti­cu­lar has been active in many of the fields addres­sed by the new space stra­tegy for many years:

Euro­pean and inter­na­tio­nal coope­ra­tion and fun­da­men­tal space rese­arch is fur­ther dri­ven, par­ti­cu­larly in the major space mis­si­ons. The James Webb Space Telescope, for exam­ple – a col­la­bo­ra­tion bet­ween the space agen­cies NASA, ESA and CSA – aims to find ans­wers to some of life’s big ques­ti­ons: Where do we come from? And per­haps is there even fur­ther life in space? Rese­ar­chers from Jena have manu­fac­tu­red high-pre­cis­ion mir­rors and a Cali­bra­tion Spec­tral Source for the lar­gest space obser­va­tory ever built by mankind.

We are also loo­king for­ward to the ExoM­ars mis­sion, which is curr­ently sche­du­led to launch in 2028. It is inten­ded to expand space explo­ra­tion in the direc­tion of the red pla­net and thus extend our hori­zons of know­ledge bey­ond the boun­da­ries of the Earth. Employees at the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute in Jena deve­lo­ped a minia­tu­ri­zed laser module for ana­ly­zing rock samples for the mission’s Mars rover.

In gene­ral, space opens the pos­si­bi­lity of a rele­vant change of per­spec­tive. Chal­lenges such as cli­mate change, some of which still seem far away in our ever­y­day lives ›down here‹, show a far more threa­tening face from ›up there‹. Fraun­ho­fer IOF rese­ar­chers are invol­ved in num­e­rous mis­si­ons and pro­jects to find solu­ti­ons to urgent issues that threa­ten social peace and secu­rity in the long term – whe­ther through our par­ti­ci­pa­tion in the Ger­man envi­ron­men­tal mis­sion EnMAP, which aims to make the con­se­quen­ces of cli­mate change visi­ble, or the deve­lo­p­ment of a new satel­lite tech­no­logy that will help to use valuable resour­ces such as water more spa­rin­gly and effi­ci­ently in the future.

Fur­ther­more, inno­va­tion rese­arch in the field of quan­tum tech­no­lo­gies has expe­ri­en­ced strong growth in recent years, also here in Jena. Quan­tum tech­no­lo­gies, espe­ci­ally prac­ti­cally tap-proof com­mu­ni­ca­tion by means of quanta, are an essen­tial basis for fur­ther digi­tiza­tion. In pro­grams, some of them trans­at­lan­tic, such as the Hyper­space rese­arch pro­ject, our rese­ar­chers are hel­ping to lay the foun­da­ti­ons for an inter­con­ti­nen­tal quan­tum net­work through satel­lite-based quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Major pro­jects such as the QuNET initia­tive con­ti­nue to con­tri­bute to main­tai­ning secu­rity in the infor­ma­tion society as well as Euro­pean sove­reig­nty in pio­nee­ring future technologies.

It is still a great plea­sure for us to see how for­mer mem­bers of our insti­tute go their own ways and deve­lop new mar­kets. The SPACEOPTIX GmbH for exam­ple, a spin-off from Fraun­ho­fer IOF, builds com­pon­ents and sys­tems for appli­ca­ti­ons in the aero­space sec­tor and thus addres­ses space as a growth mar­ket, also cal­led the new space mar­ket.

We are proud that as an insti­tute we make an important con­tri­bu­tion to Earth obser­va­tion as well as cli­mate rese­arch and space explo­ra­tion. My spe­cial thanks goes to our sci­en­tists, whose work helps to enable excel­lent basic rese­arch on one hand and to drive rele­vant inno­va­tions on the other. We are cer­tain that the Ger­man government’s new space stra­tegy will be ano­ther powerful dri­ving force and that the key tech­no­logy of pho­to­nics in par­ti­cu­lar will con­ti­nue to streng­then space and space rese­arch with signi­fi­cant contributions.«

The Ger­man government’s new space stra­tegy, entit­led »Neue Zei­ten, neue Rele­vanz« (engl.: »New Times, New Rele­vance«) was announ­ced on Sep­tem­ber 27. It is inten­ded to take account of the incre­asing importance of space tra­vel for society. The Ger­man government’s last space stra­tegy dates back to 2010.

You will find the press release here: