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Global Space Economy Grew 9 Percent to $330 Billion Last Year

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 10, 2015
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space_foundation_logoCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., July 7, 2015 (Space Foundation PR) – The Space Foundation today released the findings of its publication The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.

In 2014, the global space economy grew slightly more than 9 percent, reaching a total of $330 billion worldwide, up from 2013’s $302.5 billion. Together, commercial space activities made up 76 percent of the global space economy. The industry as a whole demonstrated a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of seven percent from 2005 to 2014, nearly doubling in size over the course of the decade.

U.S. government space spending went up slightly, 2.9 percent, from 2013 to 2014. The U.S. devoted 1.2 percent of the government’s national budget to space in 2014. During that year, U.S. government space spending made up more than half of what all governments around the world spent on space. Space expenditures by governments other than the U.S. grew 12.9 percent in 2014, in spite of decreases in budgets of international cooperative efforts such as the European Space Agency.

The Space Report Key Findings

The report contains worldwide space facts and figures and is illustrated with photographs, charts and graphs. Within are myriad examples of the benefits of space exploration and utilization, the challenges facing the space sector, the opportunities for future growth and the major factors that shape the industry. In addition, The Space Report includes an overview of each sector, easy-to-understand definitions and up-to-date information on space infrastructure, facilities, launches and programs.

Space Economy

In 2014, global navigation satellite system receivers, such as the ones integrated with smartphone microchips, were the primary driver behind a nearly 18 percent increase in revenue for commercial space infrastructure and support industries. More than 3 billion mobile devices receive signals, not only from U.S. GPS satellites, but also from the Russian GLONASS and a variety of satellite-based augmentation systems. About 2.8 billion location-based application services were downloaded to these mobile devices during 2014.

The overall value of satellites launched in 2014 decreased by 13.6 percent from 2013, partly driven by decreases in the number of high-value military satellite launches.

Launches and Satellites

There were 23 orbital space launch vehicles launched from the U.S. in 2014, four more than were launched in 2013. Europe launched 11 rockets, a 57 percent increase from the seven launched in 2013. Russia still conducts more launches than any other country, although its 2014 tally of 32 was the same as in 2013. The total number of space vehicle launches worldwide was 92, including two failures.

The number of satellites launched during 2014 increased 38 percent from the number of satellites launched in 2013. Nearly 80 percent of launched satellites were to be inserted in low Earth orbit (LEO), and 46 percent of all satellites launched in 2014 weighed less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds). In one instance, a Russian Dnepr rocket deployed 37 satellites in a single launch. In 2014, 35 percent of the total satellites successfully launched and deployed were for Earth observation and remote sensing missions.


The number of people employed in the civilian U.S. space workforce continued to decline in 2013, the latest full year for which data is available, with an estimated loss of nearly 6,000 employees. From 2006 to 2013, the U.S. space workforce declined about 14 percent, losing nearly 40,000 space specialists. Preliminary data for 2014 does not indicate the decline has reversed yet.

Wages for those remaining in the U.S. space industry remain high. The average annual salary was $108,000 for a U.S. civilian space employee in 2013. Employees working in the guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing sector averaged the highest salary of nearly $120,000. The average age of an employee working in the aerospace and defense industry continues to climb, reaching slightly over 46 years of age.

NASA started fiscal year (FY) 2015 with 17,731 employees, losing slightly over 1,000 people since FY 2011. The retirement or cancellation of several major programs during that period corresponds with the losses. In FY15, 17.6 percent of NASA’s workforce was eligible for retirement, and 15 percent of NASA’s employees were under 35 years old.

Europe’s space workforce continued to grow, having added 7,600 employees since 2005. Six of Europe’s countries account for 90 percent of Europe’s space workforce, with France, Germany and Spain experiencing growth, while others declined.

About the Report

The Space Report is published annually by the Space Foundation, using in-house industry analysts working with a European aerospace consulting firm, Eurospace, to research and analyze government and industry trends in space activity.

About the Website

Beginning in September 2015, the Space Foundation will offer an online service that will provide subscribers with access to all the research conducted for The Space Report dating back to 2005, as well as new data sets that have never appeared in the report. This website will provide users with updates throughout the year, customizable chart and downloadable data for further analysis. To view more information about this new service, visit

The Space Report 2015 is on Sale Now

The Space Report is the definitive body of information about the global space industry. It is a valuable resource for government and business leaders, educators, financial analysts, students and space-related businesses. The report can be purchased as a downloadable PDF for $399. A website subscription can be purchased for $3,500. The subscription includes the ability to download every published edition of The Space Report. Purchases can be made online at

Licenses for businesses and schools, academic pricing and discounted previous editions of The Space Report are also available via online purchase.

About the Space Foundation

Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.” Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a field office in Houston and conducts government affairs from its Washington, D.C., office. It annually publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube, and read our e-newsletter Space Watch.

10 responses to “Global Space Economy Grew 9 Percent to $330 Billion Last Year”

  1. Kapitalist says:

    So it grew with 1½ NASA budgets last year. So why is everyone crying about how expensive the SLS is or about tiny suborbital programs? One could put footprints on Mars for $330 billion, one single year’s global space spendings. Just reserving half the increase in space spendings during 20 years would be super enough.

    • Paul_Scutts says:

      Not everyone is crying about the amount of public funds being spent upon the SLS, Kapitalist. My criticism of this spending is that those funds, IMO, would be far more efficiently spent upon employing rockets like the proposed Falcon Heavy to do the lifting of hardware which could be afforded to be produced if it weren’t for the SLS. It does not make sense to me to fund the SLS and then have nothing left in the budget either to launch more than one or two or to do anything of any significance with them. Regards, Paul.

    • Paul451 says:

      So why is everyone crying about how expensive the SLS is

      It’s not the size of the program, it’s the waste. Approx $3b/yr for a decade, just for the initial launcher and short-duration capsule. A second decade to add the heavier-lift cargo version. So $60b for crew and cargo launcher, and a capsule. No landers, no deep-space-habs, no ion-tugs, no orbital refuelling (let alone depots), no new engines or other key technology, no robotic precursor missions, etc etc etc.

      It’s clear that NASA is not going to magically receive more funding just because we hold our breaths and stamp our feet, and point out how small the budget is. So with a limited budget, the issue is how to maximise bang for buck, and SLS/Orion is clearly the opposite.

      [Aside: It’s worth pointing out again that Mike Griffin apparently believed that if he tricked Pres. Bush and Congress to support an unaffordable program, they’d be forced to increase NASA’s funding… You saw how well that worked.]

      or about tiny suborbital programs?

      I assume that’s aimed at Doug’s snipes at Virgin Galactic? Again, it’s not saying “Suborbital is bad”, it’s saying “VG is bad, and taxpayers in NM shouldn’t be subsidising them.”

      • ThomasLMatula says:

        Its also about using tax payer’s money for SLS. No one cares how much Blue Origins is spending, its Jeff Bezos money and he is free to do with it as he wishes. And unlike VG, he spent his own money to build his spaceport in Texas for launching it.

    • ThomasLMatula says:

      You miss the point entirely. The vast majority of revenue is from purchase of space commerce services for commercial use. Real commercial, not the government type “commercial” which is used to make folks believe COTS/CCP are :commercial” when they are nothing more than a different form of government contracting.

      But the take away is that government funded space only makes up a minority share of world space spending and has been since the 1990’s. So how are you going to reserve half the increase? Tax providers of commercial space services for your Mars dreams?

      As for the money to go to Mars, make a good business case, show you won’t be in competition with the great NASA, and it will appear. Corporations like Exxon spend 2-3 times the NASA budget annual on exploration and development of energy. A single offshore oil rig may cost as much as $8 billion. The money to go to Mars is there, or to do anywhere else in space, if you just show how to make a profit from it.

      But business knows it won’t be able to make a profit if NASA is there to undermine it. Although there was been a demand for commercial launch services since the first commercial satellite, Telstar, was launched 1962, it couldn’t emerge as an industry until NASA was banned from launching commercial payloads. It is hard to compete against a tax payer subsidized launch that only needs to recover marginal costs when your firm not only has to cover all its costs with the launch, but pay taxes to the government that in competition with you as well. That is why BA is on standby mode until the great commune in the sky is gone and it’s free to provide commercial HSF services without NASA using its own tax dollars to undermine it.

      • Kapitalist says:

        I guess those numbers tell us that any *profitable* idea about space flight, will have all the money in the world to be invested in it. Government’s’ role in space is already tiny. If Mars (or the Moon) gets profitable, everyone will forget about tiny NASA.

        • ThomasLMatula says:

          That is why the Space Act is so important. By clarifying and codifying the property rights to asteroids it opens them up to commercial activities. It probably the most important space legislation since the original Commercial Space Act of 1984. But since it reduces the relevance of NASA, and other government space agencies, you will see folks oppose it.

          • Kapitalist says:

            You mean, so that no one else snatches the asteroid you are mining, because it is so crowded out there? For sure it feels safe to have God government as a middleman between you and your wallet…

            Regulations are frauds. Their only purpose is to steal and destroy. Immediately when a crises occurs, for which there are elaborate regulations about how to handle, all the regulations will suddenly change. See 911 or the financial crisis or the Greek problem or what you want. Regulations mean chaos. Anarchy is and has always been the only way to organize productive activity such as family, industry, science, for obvious reasons.

  2. savuporo says:

    And for the umpteenth consecutive year, the much hyped suborbital spaceflight market, for research payloads or otherwise, has failed to materialize.
    I wonder what will be the next wave of hype? In 90ies it was LEO constellations and orbital RLVs, post 2000 suddenly it was all suborbital tourism. Then this was scaled back to perhaps research payloads and now even this is gone away.
    Come on, all you aging O’Neillians and Heinleinian “space advocates”, where is your next misguided space fad? It’s getting boring !

  3. Pa1M20 says:

    Does anyone know the total revenue generated by the US space economy in 2014?
    Thanks in advance

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