11. The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a founding member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and hosts the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC). The country has strong research communities and capabilities in space-related science and engineering and has provided instruments to international missions such as TROPOMI, measuring air quality, and contributed to the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on the US James Webb Telescope. The country further hosts the Galileo Reference Centre, which monitors and assesses the accuracy and availability of European Union programme Galileo services for positioning, navigation and timing.

In 2022, the institutional budget for space activities of The Netherlands amounted to some USD 163.1 million (EUR 155 million), indicating a 0.5% yearly decline since 2015. The majority of funding (87%) was channelled through the European Space Agency and returned to the country as contracts, through the Organisation’s rule of geographical return, or allocated to other international organisations, such as Eumetsat (13.6%). Key programme priorities in 2022 included science and telecommunications (Figure 11.1). Overall, the institutional space budget accounted for 0.016% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2022. The Netherlands has launched several nanosatellites (smaller than 10kg) in the last years, including its first military satellite in 2021 in partnership with a domestic manufacturer and Delft University of Technology; and two nanosatellites in 2023 in partnership with Norway, as part of the MilSpace2 project to remotely detect, classify and geolocate radio frequency signals (e.g. navigation radars on ships).

The Netherlands conducts industry surveys at regular intervals. In 2018, the space sector generated revenues of USD 966 million (EUR 820 million) and employed 6 000 full-time equivalents (some 40% of which were employed at ESTEC). Downstream activities focus on products and services for precision farming; infrastructure modelling; flood and water management; and navigation. Furthermore, several satellite operators are headquartered in the country. The space manufacturing sector produces subsystems (e.g., instruments and solar panels) and essential components (e.g. sensors, igniters) for satellites and launchers.

The Netherlands’ maintained its share of patent applications in space-related technologies worldwide between 2006-10 and 2016-20, accounting for about 1% of applications, which is about the same as in the 2006-10 period (Figure 11.2).

Based on data in the OECD Development Assistance Committee Creditor Reporting System database, the Netherlands committed some 41.8 million constant US dollars in space-related official development assistance over the 2002-21 period, (Figure 11.3), mainly as part of the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) programme. The first project calls of G4AW were launched in 2013-14 with the aim to promote and support private investments for satellite-based information services for food producers in low-income countries.

In terms of scientific output and excellence (Table 11.2), OECD indicators for scientific production, international co-authorships and citations in space-related scientific journal categories (aerospace engineering; astronomy; atmospheric science; and space and planetary science), show that authors at Netherlands-affiliated institutions performed above OECD average in 2021, for all indicators and across all three journal categories, especially in astronomy and astrophysics and atmospheric science. In atmospheric science, some 15.7% of Netherlands-affiliated publications were among the world’s 10% top-cited, compared to the 9.8% OECD average.


Dialogic (2020) Broad exploration of space technology’s added value in the Netherlands. The Hague. Available at: https://www.dialogic.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Management-Summary_Broad-exploration-of-space-technology%E2%80%99s-added-value-in-the-Netherlands-Oct-2020.pdf (Accessed: 25 April 2023).

Dialogic (2021) Description and evaluation of space research in the Netherlands (Beschrijving en evaluatie Ruimteonderzoek in Nederland). The Hague. Available at: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2021/04/22/dialogic-rapport-beschrijving-en-evaluatie-ruimteonderzoek-in-nederland (Accessed: 25 April 2023).

NSO (2022a) NSO Advice for Space Policy 2023-2025. The Hague. Available at: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2022/10/20/nso-advies-voor-het-ruimtevaartbeleid-2023-2025 (Accessed: 25 April 2023).

NSO (2022b) Space Activities 2021. The Hague. Available at: https://www.spaceoffice.nl/files/ documenten/jaarverslag/Jaaroverzicht%20NSO%20ENG%20LR.pdf (Accessed: 25 April 2023)

OECD (2023), “Creditor Reporting System (CRS)", OECD.stat (database), https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=CRS1 (accessed on 24 April 2023).

Legal and rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.