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We Europeans, who are today experiencing to different extents the effects of the financial crisis, tend to think that this is a worldwide phenomenon. That, however, is not the case and the global picture is mixed at least. Many space nations around the world, such as China, Russia, India and Brazil, are in a different situation. Russia has just announced that its space budget will increase substantially during the coming years. At the same time, there is no sign that China will reduce its ambitious efforts in space science, exploration and strategic capabilities. The United States, accounting for over half of the world’s spending on space activities, is currently witnessing an enduring economic stagnation combined with political disagreement on its federal budget. Although politicians in Congress have agreed upon certain issues, many challenges need to be resolved in the near future. As long as the issue of federal spending remains unresolved there is uncertainty as to how defence and space budgets will be affected in the coming years. Over the last couple of years, the U.S. space budget has already diminished in relative terms vis-à-vis other nations. While in the early 2000s U.S. spending accounted for 75% of global spending on space, this number has now dropped to approximately 60% – a remarkable drop for a relatively short timeframe.
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