Clarification: The Euroconsult survey included estimates of classified spending in its U.S. Space budget total for 2013.

Government spending on space activity worldwide declined in 2013 for the first time in almost two decades in part due to economic difficulties in many spacefaring countries, according to a new report by the market research firm Euroconsult.

According to the survey, “Profiles in Government Space Programs,” global budgets for space programs dipped to $72.1 billion last year after reaching a peak of $72.9 billion the year before. “This is the first time since 1995 that public space programs worldwide have entered a downward trend, a direct result of the cyclical nature of countries’ investment in space-based infrastructures combined with governments’ belt-tightening efforts during tough economic times,” Euroconsult said in a Feb. 13 press release promoting the survey results. 

However, Steve Bochinger, Euroconsult chief operating officer and editor of the report, said he expects the numbers to recover in the latter part of this decade for many of the countries currently experiencing budgetary difficulties. In addition, more and more countries are initiating space programs, he said in the press release.

A big reason for the decline is the United States, which spends more than any other country on space activity. U.S. government space spending was about $38.7 billion for 2013, down from a peak of $47.5 billion in 2009, according to the press release. The figures include estimates of classified spending.

Russia, on the other hand, is stepping up its space investments and is the only country besides the United States to spend more than $10 billion a year, the release said. Measured in local currency, Russian spending has increased by an average of 32 percent annually over the last five years, the release said, without providing specific numbers.

Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy, India and the European Union each invested more than $1 billion in space activity in 2013, Euroconsult said. China ranked eighth in space spending as a proportion of gross domestic product, indicating room for growth, Euroconsult said.