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Number of satellites in orbit - major countries 2020

Of the 2,666 active artificial satellites orbiting the Earth as of March 31, 2020, 1,327 belong to the United States. This is by far the largest number of any single country, with their nearest competitor, China, accounting for only 363.

Types of satellites

Artificial satellites are human-made objects deliberately placed in orbit. Since the first satellite was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, over 5,000 satellites launches have taken place for a variety of objectives. Earth observation satellites are used for both civilian and military purposes, playing a crucial role for activities such as monitoring the earth’s weather. Satellites also form an integral part of the world’s navigation and communications infrastructure. Space exploration also relies on the space telescopes, space stations and spacecraft included under this category.

The space industry

In the years between 2008 and 2019, the global satellite industry almost doubled to reach 271 billion U.S. dollars. Revenue is generated from building, launching and operating satellites. While private companies have had the capacity to build and operate satellites since the 1960’s, it was not until the 1980’s that private companies were able to launch satellites. Over the coming decades the prevalence of private companies within the sector is expected to grow; for example, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX plans to increase its number of launches fourfold between 2020 and 2040.

Number of satellites in orbit by major country as of March 31, 2020

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March 31, 2020

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Statistics on "Space industry worldwide"

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