IEverything has changed in space travel in recent years, and that can be summed up in one sentence. “There are around 6,500 satellites in space, around 3,000 of which belong to the American multi-billionaire Elon Musk,” says Rolf Densing, director of the European Space Agency ESA for mission operations. The private ones are there, new goals are being set for: Space X, Musk’s space company, wants to send 42,000 more satellites into orbit in the next few years. It is also heading towards the moon and Mars, also in manned space travel. Densing likes that. It sounds a bit like the saying “competition is good for business” when he talks about the influence of private space operators.
Of course, ESA also works with such providers itself. For example, with a Swiss start-up that is developing something like a garbage disposal probe for space debris on behalf of ESA. Because where there are many satellites, there is also a lot of junk. There is much to be done, including in international legislation. So there are jobs that are more boring than those of Densing and his colleagues – and apparently the ESA is so attractive as an employer that the employees are not drawn away despite the private offers. “Anyone who is here likes to stay long,” says Densing in an event of the FAZ series “Club of Clever Minds”. As evidence, a look at the resume of Holger Krag, head of ESA’s space security program, shows just that. Krag is the ultimate space debris expert, starting in Darmstadt in 2006 and leading the fastest-growing program since 2019 the ESA. So much to do.