In the midst of a tumultuous year for the global economy, government space program budgets have maintained their growing trajectories for a fifth consecutive year, revealing Euroconsult’s latest “Government Space Programs: References, Profiles and Forecasts to 2029”. After a period of strong budget tensions between 2010 and 2015, government space sector spending reached its highest recorded point in 2020. With Covid-19 having no notable impact on government space budgets, the pandemic occurred with budgets largely already decided, however it remains to see if governments can sustain these historic budget levels in the future.
For the 10th year in a row, civilian budget expansion surpassed military, a total of $ 50.2 billion in 2020, representing 61% of global spending, 10% higher than in 2007. Growth of the civilian space budget is reinforced by the proliferation of new markets, ambitious space exploration and manned space travel programs and the allure of a growing commercial market encouraging governments to invest to help land industries capture a piece of this market.
Defense budgets are cyclical, with the United States continuing to control spending at 75% of the world’s total, although other countries are increasing their investments, particularly in China, Russia and France, albeit with increasing contributions from civilian powers like India. Government defense space budgets are driven by the current global upcycle phase, the strong emphasis on space security in all major space countries – with considerable interest in SSA from major and emerging space countries – and a widespread trend of space militarization.
“Contrary to cyclical defense space budgets, civilian spending is more prone to external shocks, such as economic crises, falling oil prices and changing government priorities. Although we witnessed record space budgets in 2020, their sustainability remains an open question in the current global economic context. Whether emerging space nations continue their commitment to national space policies and strategies or divert investment elsewhere, we will continue to monitor this closely. And we can now provide our customers with more recent data faster thanks to our new digital platform, which is updated quarterly. ” , commented Simon Seminari, chief adviser of Euroconsult and editor-in-chief of the research product of Euroconsult’s government space programs.
While the United States continues to be the world’s largest investor in space with 58% of the world’s total, with China, France, Russia and Japan following in that order, the share of the top 5 space districts investing in space has declined to represent only 81% of the world’s total, less than the top 5 accounting for 93% of total spending 20 years ago. The U.S. budget for space in 2020 totaled $ 48 billion, while China continued to maintain its two-tier ranking, with an estimated budget of $ 8.9 billion, representing an approximate triple increase since the early 2000s. France has also continued to increase its space budget, surpassing European national spending to surpass Russia as the third largest investor with a $ 4 billion budget envelope dedicated to space in 2020.
The socio-economic benefits of space assets, as well as the rapid development of commercial space markets, have resulted in a growing number of countries investing in space. However, despite this trend, the gap between emerging and mature space powers has grown significantly over the last decade, and threatens to grow even more in the next, especially as the Covid economic backwardness could force emerging countries to reassess, cancel or delay their space investments. to strengthen their public finances.
In terms of space applications, governments are investing $ 13.2 billion, manned space travel has surpassed 11.7 billion U.S. Earth observations as the highest-funded application in 2020, spurred by ambitious missions in the United States (Artemis), China (China Large Modular Space Station) India (Gaganyaan), as well as large investments by ESA, Russia and Japan, among others. According to the research report, Space Science and Research is now the third highest-funded application by governments, with next-gen orbital infrastructure and high-cost space exploration missions, including three launched for Mars in 2020, largely driving a civilian space budget growth. .
Some competing forces make predictions difficult. The Covid pandemic-related economic backlog is likely to put pressure on government budgets. If commercial space markets do not meet expectations, governments risk being disappointed by their returns on investment and may seek to introduce money into other more fruitful sectors. However, most mature powers have devoted themselves to ambitious multi-year space exploration and piloted space travel programs, making it difficult to drain investment, and the growing space warfare should also support investment.