China Beat US in 2011 Space Launches; Roger Krone Comments on Budget, R&D

Roger Krone, Boeing

An annual report found that China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in the number of rockets it launched into orbit during an individual year, National Defense Magazine reports. 

The annual Space Report was released Monday, prefacing the upcoming Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Military, civilian and space industry executives will address the current budget environment and the cost of launching spacecraft at the symposium.

Roger Krone, Boeing’s president of network and space systems, said during a pre-conference briefing in Arlington, Va. that companies will have to acclimate themselves to an austere budget climate.

He also said companies will have to spend their own research and development funds.

The company introduced an all-electric satellite in March that was developed with internal funds.

Krone said non-government business opportunities and fixed-price contracts are where the market is headed.

China beat out the U.S. with 19 launches compared to 18 in 2011.

Russia surpassed both nations with 31 launches in 2011, the report said. 

The number of active satellites orbiting Earth was 994 and the worldwide space economy grew 12 percent to $289.77 billion.

The report found that although U.S. government space spending was flat, the country still makes up for 65 percent of worldwide space spending.

Report authors indicated their optimism about the U.S. commercial human spacecraft program NASA is investing in to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. 

Report authors wrote the end of the space shuttle program led to a decline in the U.S. civil and commercial space workforce.

However, the U.S. military space workforce saw a 6 percent increase over two years. 

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