The future looks bright in space, with global government expenditure on space programs climbing to a historical high of more than $62 billion dollars in 2008. Planned satellite launches in the next 10 years are set to increase 38 per cent over the previous decade, with 610 government satellites planned for launch over the next 10 years.
Entitled Government Space Markets, World Prospects to 2017, the report ranks Earth observation as the number one satellite-based application worldwide. Governments spent $6.7 billion – around 20 per cent of government non-classified investment in space – on EO in 2008.
‘Lower cost satellites and ability to address local issues has made EO the top priority application for a number of countries, particularly emerging space programs,’ states the report.
Satellite navigation has gained increasing attention in government circles. Boasting an annual growth rate of more than 21 per cent over the past 5 years, it is the fastest growing application in terms of government expenditure. Satellite navigation programs attracted around $2.6 billion from government in 2008.
Investments from Europe, Russia, India, Japan, and China in a new satellite navigation system is expected to boost expenditure to $3 billion in 2010, while the US is developing GPS next-generation satellites. Over the next decade, 144 satellites should be launched for navigation applications – more than double that of the past decade, according to the report.
Euroconsult’s director of institutional affairs, Steve Bochinger, warned that the global financial crisis could impact government expenditure in space as more economies sliipped into recession.
‘Government space programs are driven by long-term strategic national objectives, which are typically less influenced by short-term economic downturns,’ he said. ‘However, governments could restrain spending on non-priority space program budget items or may find it more difficult to attract private partners to co-fund public-private-partnership projects.’
However, he tempered this assessment by noting: ‘On the other hand, the economic slowdown may induce governments to increase their investments on infrastructure-related programs to support their economies.’
Meanwhile, defense spending on space is tipped to continue rising. Government spending on defense programs is likely to catch up to civil program spending in the next five years, says the report, with most countries’ defense spending generally trending upward.