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Countries that spend the most on space exploration

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NASA/Luca Parmitano // Wikimedia Commons

Countries that spend the most on space exploration

With the recent conclusion of NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover exploration after 15 unprecedented years on the red planet, it’s natural to wonder what else is happening and what may be next for humans in space.

There are a number of countries committed to pursuing and promoting space exploration and its relevant technologies. Stacker set out to find out just which countries are investing the most resources to these areas, using Space Ready: The Launchpad for Emerging Agencies, a report produced by The Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program in Australia. The February 2018 report compares 14 different agencies chosen by a select number of criteria, including an effort to “provide diversity in several areas such as the agency’s age, aims, activities, and geographic location.”

Stacker has identified key highlights of each agency’s spending and size, and also pinpointed some notable efforts and accomplishments in their years of space exploration. Which countries are committed to exploring Mars in the coming years? Which countries are focused on developing on-the-ground infrastructure?

Read on to see the list, ranked by government space budget in U.S. dollars.

You may also like: Space discoveries that will blow your mind

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STRINGER/AFP // Getty

#12. Malaysia

- Government space budget (2017): $8 million (0.02% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 31,187,265
- National space budget per capita: $0.26 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $24 million

ANGKASA, Malaysia's national space agency, was formed in 2003 and sent their first Malaysian astronaut shortly after in 2007. Currently, Malaysia's MEASAT satellite system and its services reach more than 150 countries.

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Jacques Descloitres // Wikimedia Commons

#11. South Africa

- Government space budget (2017): $19 million (0.02% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 56,015,473
- National space budget per capita: $0.34 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $42 million

South Africa formed the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in 2010. SANSA's first Earth observation satellite, EO-Sat1, is expected to launch this year. Other notable SANSA achievements include the launch of the Space Weather Center at Hermanus, which recently became the designated regional provider of space weather information to all aircrafts in African airspace.

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AFP // Getty

#10. UAE

- Government space budget (2017): $150 million (0.18% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 9,269,612
- National space budget per capita: $16.18 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $275 million

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency is currently preparing to launch a Mars probe, with an expected launch date planned for July 2020. In October 2018, the newer agency (which was founded in 2014) also signed an agreement with NASA, with plans to collaborate on both space exploration and human spaceflight.

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Contando Estrelas // Wikimedia commons

#9. Spain

- Government space budget (2017): $170 million (0.03% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 46,347,576
- National space budget per capita: $3.67 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity (PPP): $230 million

Spain has the oldest space agency to make the list; the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) was founded in 1942. Spain is also active in the European Space Agency. In the fall of 2018, Spanish company GMV secured the largest contract ever signed by the country's space industry, to maintain and upgrade the ground control system for Galileo, Europe's global navigation satellite system.

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NASA/Luca Parmitano // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Luxembourg

- Government space budget (2017): $223 million (0.8% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 575,747
- National space budget per capita: $387.32 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $227 million

Luxembourg, which is also part of the European Space Agency, entered the space race in 2016. Though the population (at just under 600,000) is the smallest to make this list, the space mining industry is responsible for 1.8% of its GDP, the highest ratio in the EU.

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Força Aérea Brasileira // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Brazil

- Government space budget (2017): $260 million (0.04% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 207,652,865
- National space budget per capita: $1.25 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $402 million

The only Latin American country to make this list—and with the largest space agency in the southern hemisphere—Brazil has recently been pursuing the microsatellite market. Its agency, the Brazilian Space Agency, celebrates its 25th year in 2019.

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Mike Peel // Wikimedia Commons

#6. United Kingdom

- Government space budget (2017): $414 million (0.04% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 65,788,574
- National space budget per capita: $6.29 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $465 million

The U.K. is currently building the first European Mars rover as part of the ExoMars program, a joint effort from ESA and Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos. The U.K Space Agency sent Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, to space in 1991. She was also the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station.

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NASA // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Canada

- Government space budget (2017): $488 million (0.08% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 36,289,822
- National space budget per capita: $13.45 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $525 million

The Canadian Space Agency created the Canadarm, a robotic arm used on 90 space missions over 30 years, that proved to be a significant achievement. The CSA, which turns 30 this year, also holds a cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency.

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Ashutoshrc // Wikimedia Commons

#4. India

- Government space budget (2017): $1.11 billion (0.45% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 1,324,171,354
- National space budget per capita: $0.84 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $4.3 billion

In 2017, India broke the record for launching the most satellites from one rocket, with 104. It was one achievement of many since the Indian Space Research Organization's 1969 founding. The ISRO is also planning its second mission to the moon in 2019.

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Johnson Lau // Wikimedia Commons

#3. China

- Government space budget (2017): $4.30 billion (0.16% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 1,403,500,365
- National space budget per capita: $3.06 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $8.33 billion

Earlier this year, China became the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon. China has made steady advances since the founding of its space program in 1956 (despite not being included in the International Space Station), and also has additional moon travel and an expedition to Mars in the works.

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ESA/Jürgen Mai // Wikimedia Commons

#2. European Space Agency

- Government space budget (2017): $6.43 billion (0.07% of the combined national budgets)
- Population (2017): 511,800,000
- National space budget per capita: $12.55 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $7.83 billion

The European Space Agency (ESA) is counted as one country here, but it actually consists of 22 member states countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. Throughout its more than 40 years, the agency has made many significant achievements, including contributions to the ISS, development of a robust astronaut program, and orbital missions around Saturn and Mars. An upcoming project to keep an eye out for is the ExoMars effort with Russia.

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Astronaut David R. Scott, Apollo 15 commander // Wikimedia Commons

#1. USA

- Government space budget (2017): $19.3 billion (0.58% of the national budget)
- Population (2017): 322,179,605
- National space budget per capita: $59.9 per capita
- Government space budget Purchasing Power Parity: $19.3 billion

The U.S., with its space agency NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is home to a number of significant space firsts, including the first country to land a man on the moon. It's also one of the leading countries behind the International Space Station, and one of only two countries to land a spacecraft on Mars.

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