A new report from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has found that revenue from the country’s space sector declined in 2012 but that the workforce gained nearly 500 jobs.

The report,  “State of the Canadian Space Sector 2012,” put domestic revenue from space business at 1.7 billion Canadian dollars ($1.6 billion), with 80 percent of that coming from nongovernment sources. That represented a 4 percent decrease from 2011.

Exports also fell for the second year in a row, totaling 1.58 billion Canadian dollars, according to the 24-page report. That decrease was 81 million Canadian dollars.

The CSA publishes the assessment of the health of the country’s space sector on an annual basis.

While the report provides various figures it does not go into detail on the reasons behind the changes or name specific companies. For instance, it did not outline why the number of jobs increased in the space sector even as revenue dropped.

CSA President Walter Natynczyk noted that the country’s space sector “faced some challenges” during 2012. “The decline in revenue was felt in numerous areas of activity,” he noted in the report.

Work in space science, space exploration and navigation all decreased, the study found.

“As in 2011, growth in the space sector in 2012 was driven by Earth Observation activities,” the report said. Earth observation revenue was 322 million Canadian dollars, an increase of 19 percent.

Revenue from satellite communications activities was relatively flat at 2.7 billion Canadian dollars. But over the last five years, satellite communications revenue increased by 510 million Canadian dollars, or 24 percent, the report noted.

Defense-related revenue increased by 64 million Canadian dollars in 2012, to 200 million Canadian dollars. Of that a total, 142 million Canadian dollars in revenue was export related. 

Meanwhile, the addition of 499 jobs in the Canadian space sector brought the size of the workforce to 7,993. The majority of new positions were classified as highly qualified personnel: scientists, engineers and technicians.

David Pugliese covers space policy and developments in the space industry in Canada. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and a degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.