In this piece, we will take a look at the 12 most advanced countries in space technology. For more countries, head on over to 5 Most Advanced Countries in Space Technology.
Space exploration is one of the hottest topics these days. As compared to the decade between 2010 and 2020, interest in the sector is at an all time high globally. Before now, the U.S. Space Shuttle program had regularly piqued the attention of the American nation, but the only true global space movement occurred in the 1950s and 1960s when the U.S. and the then U.S.S.R. competed for the opportunity to first place a human on Earth orbit and then on the Moon. The U.S. and Soviet Russia were close rivals, with the latter being the first to send humans to space and make a lunar landing. But the former stole the ultimate crown when it landed astronauts on the Moon in 1969 through the Apollo program.
The three and a half years between 1969 and 1972 is the only time period when humans have made their way to and across the Moon. America is the only country that has walked our closest celestial neighbor, as the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the relative infancy of other space programs ensured that this remarkable technological achievement remained out of reach of other countries.
Fast forward to 2022, and it is appearing as if the U.S. will once again become the first to go to the Moon. NASA's Artemis program was launched in November 2022, and the Orion spacecraft successfully completed its journey around the Moon to land on Earth in December 2022. However, before we get to that, NASA is not the reason space has become a hot topic these days. Instead, the growing popularity is due to the private sector rising up to meet government agencies in establishing a regular rocket launch cadence. At the top of this list of firms is Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), whose Falcon 9 medium lift launch vehicle, or rocket, is capable of partial reuse through the remarkable feat of autonomously landing in the sea and on the ground. Watching a 135 feet tall rocket land regularly catches the public attention unlike anything else, and other firms, such as Rocket Lab, have also started to follow in SpaceX's footsteps when it comes to reusability.
The space industry itself is based on thousands of firms that operate at different levels. These range from mega firms such as Boeing, which manufactures rockets, to those that make engines, such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, and others that provide systems and subsystems such as space suits, avionics, electrical systems, heat shields, and life support equipment.
Some major players operating in the space technology include The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
We have ranked the countries by the total number of objects that they have launched into space since while launch capabilities are clustered in regions such as the U.S., Russia, and China, the objects such as satellites are made all over the globe.
12 Most Advanced Countries in Space Technology
12. Republic of Korea (ROK)
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 43
The Republic of Korea (ROK), or South Korea, is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. The country's government invests heavily in advanced technologies such as robotics and biotechnology. Korea's current national space agency is the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), but the country plans to set up a new space agency in mid 2023, called the Korea Aerospace Agency. The South Korean aerospace industry is estimated to sit at $8.4 billion by the end of this year, and up to 2021, it had launched a total of 43 objects into space, out of which 14 are satellites from the KARI.
11. Italian Republic
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 52
The Italian Republic is a European country that is most well known for its car brands such as Ferrari and fashion brands such as Versace. Italy is also one of the earliest contributors to space exploration, through the telescope of the renowned polymath Galileo Galilee who provided insights into the Moon, Jupiter, and stars of the Milky Way. Italy's space agency is the Italian Space Agency, and Italy's first contribution to astronautics come as early as 1914 through the writings of Giulio Costanzi on space navigation and nuclear propulsion. The Italian industry has also contributed to manufacturing components for the space shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS), and a variety of other missions such as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) which took place earlier this year and was the first time that humans changed the course of a celestial body. To date, Italy has launched a total of 52 objects into space.
10. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 53
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a Western European country that also has one of the world's highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. Its space industry is one of the most unique in the world since instead of others that generally focus on launch capability, human space flight, and satellite manufacturing, it is dedicated to stimulating the field of asteroid mining. Additionally, Luxembourg is also home to one of the largest satellite firms in the world, SES S.A. which was established in 1985 and operates dozens of satellites in geostationary and medium Earth orbits. The Luxembourg Space Agency, in partnership with the European Space Agency, is part of the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC), a body that aims to develop and create space resource utilization technologies. To date, Luxembourg has launched 53 objects in space.
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 82
Canada is a North American country that gained independence from the British parliament in 1982. Canada's space agency is the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). While not commonly known, Canada is one of the first countries in the world that has launched a satellite into space. In fact, it became the third - after the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. - to send a satellite into space that was not built by US or USSR. Canada is a regular contributor to the International Space Station (ISS), and its Canadarm2 has let dozens of vehicles dock on the orbiting body. Canada has also produced 17 astronauts to date and has launched 82 objects into space.
8. Federal Republic of Germany
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 114
The Federal Republic of Germany is a European country that is one of the most advanced nations in the world. Its space agency is the German Aerospace Center and it is also one of the largest contributors to the European Space Agency (ESA). Germany is also one of the first countries to have developed rocket propulsion capabilities. Its astronauts have flown on the Space Shuttle, the Russian Soyuz, and the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Additionally, Germany also operates different research projects such as satellites and telescopes. It has launched 114 objects into space so far.
European nations are increasing their collaboration with American companies like The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to further their space programs.
7. Republic of India
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 127
The Republic of India is an Asian country that is one of the largest economies in the world. It also has one of the oldest space agencies, officially dubbed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and formed in 1969. ISRO operates a space observatory, and its most notable program is the Chandrayaan program. This program has launched a lunar orbiter and a lunar lander that lost communications. ISRO technologies have also been spun off into heart devices, adhesives, and thermal shields. India is also one of the few countries in the world with a rocket program. It launched its first successful rocket in 1980, and since then has developed the capability to target a variety of different orbits such as polar and geosynchronous orbits.
6. French Republic
Number of Objects Launched as of 2021: 130
The French Republic, also known as France, is one of the most culturally diverse and powerful nations in the world. Its space agency is called the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), and the country also contributes to the European Space Agency (ESA). Just as Canada was the first country to launch a satellite not built by the Americans or the Russians, France was the first country that launched a rocket not built by either of the two. French astronauts also regularly fly to the International Space Station (ISS), and the CNES also has an unidentified flying objects (UFO) archive that spans a whopping 100,000 pages. France is also home to the Thales Group, which is one of the largest space companies in the world with a presence in the avionics, satellite communications, and electrical systems for the astronautic industry. France has launched 130 objects into space so far as of 2021 end.
As the private sector begins to spend a fortune on space technologies, companies like The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) are set to profit from humanity's space endeavors in the long term.
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Disclosure: None. 12 Most Advanced Countries in Space Technology is originally published on Insider Monkey.