Australia is just out of the world’s top 10 countries for spending on space technologies (which are underpinning Earth management systems in the Google era), reports the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
An OECD graph of ‘conservative’ estimates for 2010 space spending by G20 countries places Australia in 11th position, at approx $US11.8m – more than $US30m less than neighbouring Indonesia, with a budget of $US42.1m.
Despite massive budget cuts for its space agencies in recent years, the United States ranked first on the OECD table, at $US43,600m.
Second for spending on space activities was China ($US6,502m), with Japan third ($US3,551m) and the Russian Federation fourth ($US2,665m).
OECD estimates for clusters of countries were $US53,240m for the G7 group (Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States); $US10,537m for BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), and $US6,294.5 for 17 European Union nations with space budgets.
According to an OECD senior policy analyst, Claire Jolly, increasing numbers of countries are investing in space (especially satellite observation) programs. Surveys indicated that the first reason often is ‘prestige’, then to develop dedicated military technologies, then to improve expertise for specific science, technology and domain applications. Advances in these areas are expected to lead to a more broadly skilled general workforce later.