Are astronauts insured

Space shuttles and satellites are insured

03.11.2014
Space insurance

Private space travel is in crisis. Last week two private company rockets exploded on their way into orbit. The space freighter "Cygnus", on the way to the space station ISS, and the tourist space plane SpaceShipTwo, their debris are today on US soil. Despite high risks and imputed uncertainties, the insurance industry insures space travel and satellites, and German insurance companies are among the leading providers. An overview.

Space missions present insurers with numerous challenges: The technology is highly complex and contains innumerable sources of error. The number of starts is so low that the probability of a false start can hardly be quantified statistically; technological innovations also call into question the relevance of all available data. In addition: Not only the transport is risky. Once a satellite has reached its orbit without an accident, nobody can say with certainty how stable the technology of the expensive individual pieces actually is in space. In short: space travel is at the limit of insurability.

Nonetheless, the insurance industry insures against the risks of private space missions and the operation of satellites. The German insurance industry is one of the leading providers of these space and satellite insurances; MunichRe, Allianz and Axa, among others, are involved. The providers support space and satellite projects from the planning phase to so-called in-orbit operation.

The market is comparatively small and the risk is high

“The insurers enable the assumption of risk through an intensive exchange of information with the customer. All potential risks are checked as early as the planning phase, which means that individual coverage can then be designed, ”explains Jens Jaeger, team leader for marine and aviation insurance at the German Insurance Association. The GDV does not record the space insurance separately, but as part of the aerospace insurance. For this, the German direct insurers and reinsurers received premiums of almost 600 million euros last year.

Overall, the following applies: the market is comparatively small, the risk is high. Even a failed rocket launch or the failure of a single satellite can cost the entire premium income for a year or more. The operator of Cygnus, Orbital Sciences, has meanwhile announced that it will continue to fly into space in the future. The company will supply the ISS with equipment and food for the astronauts on behalf of the US space agency NASA until 2016. Since the discontinuation of its own shuttle program, NASA has relied on private companies for space travel.

To home page