LOS ANGELES - The overall global space economy rose to $276.52 billion in government budgets and commercial revenue in 2010, a 7.7 percent increase over 2009, the Space Foundation reported on Wednesday.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) and satellite television revenues continue to fuel overall growth in the space sector, helping the industry overcome a challenging economy, the foundation said in a report.
In addition, the space companies that make up the Space Foundation Index shared in the general stock market recovery; as of December 2010, the index was 10 percent above its value at inception in June 2005, according to the Space Report 2011: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.
The agency published its report ahead of its 27th National Space Symposium scheduled for next week in Springs, Colorado.
This definitive overview of the global space industry serves as a valuable resource for government and business leaders, educators, financial analysts, students and space-related businesses, the agency said.
According to the report, the two biggest contributors to sector growth were devices and chipsets that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites for navigation and logistics, and direct- to-home television that relies on satellites to deliver a broad range of customized programming to consumers.
This is part of a trend of commercial growth that has been in play since 2005 and has contributed to cumulative global growth of a staggering 48 percent, with no year showing less than a five percent gain, the report said.
Within the overall gain for 2010, revenues for commercial infrastructure and support industries increased 13 percent, while commercial space products and services revenues increased nine percent. In comparison, governmental spending increased by only 1. 1 percent - almost entirely in non-US space budgets, the report said.
Although the worldwide number of launches declined for the first time since 2006 (down from 78 in 2009 to 74 in 2010), the number of payloads increased (up from 111 to 118), the report said.
Russia led with 31 launches, followed by the US and China, tied at 15 launches each, marking the first time China's launch rate matched the United States'. Despite the growth in the number of nations with space interests, no new nations entered the launch business, although South Korea conducted a second unsuccessful orbital launch attempt.
The US continues to maintain robust military space employment, despite a six percent decrease in 2009, the most recent period for which results were available. Europe and Japan have also maintained their space workforce through periods of relative economic strength and weakness, according to the report.
The report also pointed to the challenges facing the US space workforce, including adapting to changes in NASA's human spaceflight program and maintaining knowledge and expertise in the midst of the retirement of an aging workforce.