8. Guide to the Profiles

Using a common framework to present information, country profiles provide facts and indicators for a selected number of countries with space programmes (i.e. members of the OECD Space Forum, as well as Australia, the People’s Republic of China (hereafter “China”), India and New Zealand). The country profiles provide a quick, at-a-glance, overview of important activities and trends, and include both long-standing and new indicators developed by the OECD Space Forum.

Each profile provides information on the state of the country’s space sector; space-related government budgets, recent policy developments, as well as key commercial activities. These findings are supported by a selection of internationally comparable indicators, subject to data availability:

  • “Fast facts” indicators

  • Space budget trends and main programmes

  • Scientific production in space literature

  • Top applicants of space-related patents

  • Penetration of satellite telecommunications technologies

  • Space-related official development assistance commitments.

Throughout the country profiles, three-letter ISO country name abbreviations have been used. A list of country codes is provided at the beginning of the report, under Acronyms and abbreviations.

“Fast facts” indicators

The Fast Facts boxes summarise indicators found in different chapters of the publication.

  • The per capita space budget (in current USD) is intended as a quick and intuitive comparative indicator of the investments in institutional space programmes. The demographic data come from OECD databases.

  • The country’s institutional space budget (in current USD) as a share of Gross domestic product (GDP) is based on government sources and OECD calculations.

  • The space R&D share of civil government budget appropriations for R&D (GBARD) is provided for the last available year. This indicator uses budget estimates (not actual spending) and focuses on the socio-economic objective “exploration and exploitation of space”. This excludes military space programmes, which are included in a specific, aggregated “defence” category in the Main Science and Technology Indicators database.

  • The launch year of the first (successfully launched) satellite is a high-visibility marker of a country’s space programme. The satellite can be domestically developed or purchased from abroad; in both cases, it represents significant investments and new technical capabilities.

  • The share of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in tertiary education is an indicator of the available talent pool for space sector development and growth. The data come from the OECD Education at a Glance database and comprises graduates from three fields of education: natural sciences, mathematics and statistics; information and communication technologies; and engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Space budget trends and main programmes

The indicator on institutional budget provides a conservative estimate of the inflation-adjusted evolution of space programmes over the last ten years between 2008 and 2017. Also included is an overview of main space agency programmes for 2017 or the latest available year, which may indicate some of the key national priorities. Data come from government sources.

Budget trends are provided in both constant national currencies and in constant US dollars in order to give an indication of the currencies’ fluctuations, as many space budgets are often affected by exchange rates. For calculations, this report makes use of the consumer price index (all items) as a deflator and exchange rates from the OECD Main Economic Indicators (MEI) database.

In the country profile for China, the space budget is an estimate, based on the analysis of other R&D intensive sectors, experiences in OECD and non-OECD space programmes and infrastructure development.

Scientific production in space literature

The indicator on the share of global space-related scientific production in space literature tracks innovation activities in the space sector. Authors of scientific papers are most likely found in higher education institutions and research organisations.

The analysis is based on a custom-built “Space literature” dataset of scientific publications extracted from Elsevier’s Scopus Custom Data database. The Space literature dataset includes papers from 124 journals, comprising all journals in the Elsevier Scopus space and planetary science classification, a selection of relevant journals belonging to the aerospace engineering field, and journals dedicated to specific space applications (e.g. GPS, GNSS, satellite remote sensing and navigation). Estimates of scientific production are based on whole counts of documents (i.e. papers in scientific journals and conference papers) by authors affiliated to institutions.

The Scopus Custom Data database is a global database of peer-reviewed scientific articles, with bibliometric records of more than 25 million articles published in more than 18 000 journals. Papers are allocated to scientific fields using the All Science Journal Classification (ASJC). It includes scientific publications in English (the majority) as well as other languages.

Top applicants of space-related patents

Space-related patent applications is another indicator that serves as a proxy for innovation activities. Patent applicants are often business firms, but can also be based in higher education institutions and research organisations.

Space-related patent applications are identified using a combination of codes from the International Patent Classification (IPC) and keyword searches in the patent title. Data refer to IP5 patent families (inventions patented in the five top IP offices) filed between 2002-05 and 2012-15, by first filing date and according to the inventor’s residence, using fractional counts.

Penetration of satellite telecommunications technologies

Two indicators, satellite TV subscriptions and satellite broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, track the uptake of satellite telecommunications technologies across the world. They have been extracted from the OECD Broadband database and the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database (WTID).

While data availability for subscriptions varies from year to year, data are on average available for all major actors and leading global economies.

Space-related official development assistance commitments

This new indicator identifies the main thematic purpose and donors/recipients of space-related official development assistance (ODA) over the period 2000-16, as reported in the databases of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). It contributes to tracking the actual use of space technologies to address socio-economic challenges in developing countries.

The OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate has been in charge of measuring resource flows to developing countries since 1961, with particular attention given to the official and concessional part of this flow, defined as “official development assistance”.

In close collaboration DAC colleagues, the OECD Space Forum Secretariat has explored the databases using keyword searches. The original dataset has been manually checked and cleaned in order to identify and retain only the projects effectively dealing with space-related initiatives. Almost 2 100 ODA projects featuring satellite applications or technologies were identified over the 16-year period.

Data are reported by donor and recipient country and/or region. In some cases, the recipient cannot be identified, either because it was not specified by the donor country or because the ODA was delivered via an international organisation (e.g. the World Bank). The list of thematic purposes (e.g. business development, telecommunications, biodiversity) is defined by DAC and attributed to a project when it is entered into the DAC database.


[3] Elsevier (2016), Scopus Custom Data, Elsevier, version 12.2016.

[6] ITU (2018), World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators 2017, (database), WTID system, version 1.0.1.

[5] OECD (2019), “Broadband database”, OECD Telecommunications and Internet Statistics (database), https://doi.org/10.1787/tel_int-data-en.

[7] OECD (2019), Main Economic Indicators, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/data-00043-en (accessed on 20 May 2019).

[4] OECD (2018), Aggregate National Accounts, SNA 2008: Population and employment by main activity (Edition 2018), https://doi.org/10.1787/na-data-en.

[8] OECD (2018), DAC database, 2018 edition.

[2] OECD (2018), “Main Science and Technology Indicators”, OECD Science, Technology and R&D Statistics (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/data-00182-en (accessed on 12 October 2018).

[1] OECD (2017), “Education at a glance: Graduates and entrants by field (Edition 2017)”, OECD Education Statistics (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/8bad9f08-en (accessed on 12 October 2018).

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