There's robust growth in the global space economy

The global space economy grew to $304.31 billion in commercial revenue and government budgets in 2012, reflecting growth of 6.7 percent from the 2011 total of $285.33 billion, according to the Space Foundation’s new report, The Space Report 2013: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.

Commercial activity—space products and services and commercial infrastructure—drove much of this increase. From 2007 through 2012, the total grew by 37 percent. Commercial space products and services revenue increased 6.5 percent since 2011, and commercial infrastructure and support industries increased by 11 percent.

Government spending increased by 1.3 percent in 2012, although changes varied significantly from country to country, with India, Russia and Brazil increasing budgets by more than 20 percent, while other nations, including several in Europe, experienced declines of 25 percent or more, according to the report.

Data was compiled from original research and a variety of public and private sources, and analyzed by Space Foundation researchers.

In the area of rocket launches, 78 launch attempts took place in 2012, a drop of 7.1 percent from the 84 launches in 2011 (but higher than the 2010 total of 74). Russia led with 24 launches, China had 19 launches and the U.S. totaled 13 launches. For the second year running, the Chinese launch rate was greater than that of the U.S. The U.S. led in terms of launch vehicle diversity, however, with 10 types of orbital rockets launched in 2012.

Regarding the workforce, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the size of the U.S. space workforce declined for the fifth year in a row, dropping 3.8 percent, from 252,315 in 2010 to 242,724 in 2011 (the most recent full year for which data is available), which is a decrease of about 9,500 workers.

However, the changes varied by sector, with some portions of the space industry growing while others contracted.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration civil servant workforce decreased from 18,709 in fiscal year 2012 to 18,167 in fiscal year 2013, a drop of 2.9 percent. However, there is evidence that the employment situation in areas with significant Space Shuttle-related layoffs, including Florida, is beginning to improve.

Both Europe and Japan saw increases in space workforces. The European industry workforce showed very modest growth in 2011, while in Japan the overall workforce grew by 7.5 percent, even though employment dropped at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Japan's government space agency.

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