Amid a tumultuous year for the global economy, government space budgets have maintained their growth trajectory for the fifth year in a row, revealing Euroconsult’s latest “government space programs: benchmarks, profiles and forecasts to 2029”. After a period of strong budgetary tensions between 2010 and 2015, government spending in the space sector reached its highest point in 2020. Given that Covid-19 had no visible impact on government space budgets, the pandemic appeared with budgets in largely already decided, it remains to be seen whether governments can sustain these historic levels of the budget in the future.
For the tenth consecutive year, the expansion of civilian budgets has exceeded military budgets, totaling $ 50.2 billion in 2020, accounting for 61% of total global spending, 10% higher than in 2007. Growing civilian space budgets are fueled by the proliferation of new entrants, ambitious space exploration and manned space flight programs, and the call for a booming commercial market that encourages governments to invest to help domestic industries capture a share of this market. .
Defense budgets are cyclical in nature, with the US continuing to dominate spending at 75% of the world, although other countries are increasing their investments, especially in China, Russia and France, although with increasing contributions from civilian powers such as India. Government defense space budgets are driven by the current phase of global cycling, the strong emphasis on space security in all leading space nations – with a strong interest in SSA by leading and emerging space countries – and a widespread trend toward militarization of space. space.
“Contrary to cyclical defense budgets, civilian spending is more prone to external shocks, such as economic crises, falling oil prices and changing government priorities. Although we have witnessed record space budgets in 2020, their sustainability remains an open question in the current global economic context. Whether emerging space nations will continue their commitment to national space policies and strategies or redirect investment elsewhere is something we will continue to monitor closely. And now we can provide our customers with faster, faster data thanks to our new digital platform, which is updated quarterly, ”said Simon Seminari, Euroconsult Senior Advisor and Editor-in-Chief of the Euroconsult Space Government Research Program.
While the US continues to be the world’s largest investor in space, with 58% of the world’s total, followed by China, France, Russia and Japan in this order, the share of the top 5 space counties investing in space has fallen to only 81% of the world total, down from the first 5, representing 93% of total spending 20 years ago. The US space budget in 2020 totaled $ 48 billion, while China continued to hold second place, with an estimated budget of $ 8.9 billion, an increase of about three times since the beginning of the years. 2000. France also continued to increase its space budget, surpassing European national spending to surpass Russia as the third largest investor, with a $ 4 billion budget package dedicated to space in 2020.
The socio-economic benefits of space assets, as well as the rapid development of commercial space markets, have led to an increase in the number of countries investing in space. However, despite this trend, the gap between emerging and mature space powers has widened significantly in the last decade and threatens to widen further in the next decade, especially as the economic consequences of Covid could force emerging countries to re-evaluate, cancel or to postpone their space investments in an effort to strengthen their public finances.
In terms of space applications, governments are investing $ 13.2 billion, manned spaceflight has exceeded $ 11.7 billion of Earth observation as the largest funding of 2020, stimulated by ambitious US missions (Artemis), China (Greater China Modular Space Station) and India (Gaganyaan), as well as large investments by ESA, Russia and Japan, among others. According to the research report, Science and Space Exploration is now the third largest government-funded application, with state-of-the-art orbital infrastructure and high-cost space exploration missions, including three that were launched for Mars in 2020, largely measure to increase the budget of the civil space. .
A number of competing forces make the forecasts challenging. The Covid economic failure related to the pandemic will put pressure on government budgets. If retail markets fail to live up to expectations, governments risk being disappointed by the return on investment and may try to divert money to other, more profitable sectors. However, most mature powers have engaged in the exploration of ambitious, multi-annual space and pilot spaceflight programs, which makes it difficult to attract investment, and the growing militarization of space should also support investment.