Top countries in Space Technology
When Russians launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, the world – and especially the Americans – was stunned. The first man-made satellite was only 23 inches in diameter and its battery lasted three weeks before it stopped all transmissions, but the impact this tiny object had on the course of human history was immeasurable. The consequences were numerous and far-reaching, but we will focus on just one. Sputnik 1 sparked another chapter of Cold War, called the Space Race.
Under the immense pressure from the public, the United States government had to dramatically increase funding for research of new technologies, space exploration, and education. The perceived lag in the technology behind the Soviet Union also led Congress and President Eisenhower to create two new agencies, ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency, renamed in 1972 to DARPA) and NASA. ARPA was responsible for researching new technologies with military application in mind and NASA was a civilian agency. The rest is history, written by pioneers like Jury Gagarin, Neil Armstrong and many others, who helped place their homelands on the list of the most advanced countries in space technology.
The culmination of human space exploration is embodied today in the International Space Station, the most expensive object ever made by man. The estimated cost of the ISS is $150 billion and it is funded by 5 space agencies from US, Russia, Japan, European Union and Canada. NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA have been maintaining ISS and supplying crews and supplies for the last 15 years, setting the record for the longest continuous human presence in space. Not surprisingly, 4 of these 5 countries are also on the list of the, as a good chunk of research conducted onboard ISS is related to medicine.
In recent past, several nations have joined the efforts in exploring space, namely China and India. Both countries have promising space programs that receive a lot of attention from the public and are funded by their governments.
Before we go to the list of most advanced countries in space technology, a small disclaimer is due. The majority of European space research is performed by ESA, European Space Agency. It is a joint effort of 22 member states, providing them with the opportunity to take part in the exploration of space. ESA’s budget ($5.5 billion) would place it very high on our list, but since it isn’t representing a single country, we decided to omit it. Some other European countries have made it to the list, though. Let’s see who they are.