In a tumultuous year for the global economy, government space program budgets have maintained their growth trajectories for the fifth consecutive year, Euroconsult’s latest leading research reveals “Government Space Programs: Benchmarks, Profiles and Forecasts for the 2029 “. After a period of severe budgetary tensions between 2010 and 2015, government space spending reached its highest point in 2020. With Covid-19 not having a major impact on the government’s space budgets, the pandemic occurred with largely already decided budgets, however it remains to be seen whether governments can sustain these historic budget levels in the future.
For the tenth consecutive year, the expansion of civilian budgets surpassed military ones, totaling $ 50.2 billion in 2020, or 61 percent of total global spending, 10 percent more than in 2007. budgets for civilian space is underpinned by the proliferation of new market entrants, ambitious space exploration and manned spaceflight programs, and the appeal of a booming commercial market that incentivizes governments to invest to help domestic industries conquer a part of this market.
Defense budgets are cyclical in nature, with the United States continuing to dominate spending at 75% of the world total, although other countries are increasing their investments, particularly in China, Russia and France, albeit with increasing contributions from powers. civilians like India. The government’s defense space budgets are driven by the current phase of global recycling, a strong emphasis on space security in all major space nations – with a marked interest in SSA by emerging and leading space countries – and a trend generalized to the militarization of space.
“Contrary to cyclical space defense budgets, civilian spending is more prone to external shocks, such as economic crises, falling oil prices and shifting government priorities. While we have seen record space budgets in 2020, their sustainability remains an open question in the current global economic environment. Whether emerging space nations will continue their commitment to national space policies and strategies or divert investment elsewhere is something we will continue to monitor closely. And now we can provide our customers with more up-to-date data faster thanks to our new digital platform, which is updated every quarter, ”commented Simon Seminari, Euroconsult Principal Advisor and Editor in Chief of Euroconsult’s government space program research product.
While the United States continues to be the world’s largest investor in space at 58% of the world total, with China, France, Russia and Japan following in that order, the share of the top 5 space counties investing in space has declined to to represent only 81% of the world total, down from the top 5 which represented 93% of total spending 20 years ago. The U.S. budget for space in 2020 amounted to $ 48 billion, while China continued to hold its second spot in the rankings, with an estimated budget of $ 8.9 billion, which represents an increase of about three. times since the early 2000s. France has also continued to increase its space budget, surpassing European national spending to overtake Russia as the third largest investor with a budget of $ 4 billion dedicated to space in 2020.
The socio-economic benefits of space resources, as well as the rapid development of commercial space markets, have led an increasing number of countries to invest in space. However, despite this trend, the gap between emerging and mature space powers has grown significantly over the past decade and is likely to grow even more in the next, especially as Covid’s economic fallout could force emerging countries to reassess, cancel or postpone their space investments in an attempt to support their public finances.
In terms of space applications governments invest in, at $ 13.2 billion, manned space flight surpassed the $ 11.7 billion of Earth observation as the most funded application in 2020, spurred by ambitious missions in the United States (Artemis), China (large modular Chinese space station) and India (Gaganyaan), as well as large investments from ESA, Russia and Japan, among others. According to the research report, Space Science and Exploration is now the third highest government-funded application, with next-generation orbital infrastructure and high-cost space exploration missions, including three launched to Mars in 2020, largely driving the growth of the civil space budget.
Several competing forces make predictions challenging. The economic fallout related to the Covid pandemic is likely to put pressure on government budgets. If commercial space markets do not live up to expectations, governments risk being disappointed with their returns on investment and may try to funnel money into other, more profitable sectors. However, most of the mature powers have engaged in ambitious multi-year programs of space exploration and manned spaceflight, making it difficult to reduce investment, and the increasing militarization of space should also support investment.