Global, dedicated, and secure communications networks are vital to governments, militaries, and agencies around the world. Increased demand for capacity—particularly secure connectivity using non-commercial frequency bands—continued to drive deployment of dedicated military communications satellite systems. The U.S. military bought significant capacity from commercial operators such as Intelsat and SES in 2014. However, the way the military buys the bandwidth has been criticized by commercial satellite communications services as expensive and outdated.
The technology that keeps tractors within field boundaries is changing, using satellite technology to aid farmers in steering farm equipment within centimeters of its intended location. AREA4D is using satellite data from the European GNSS Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and combining it with localized reference radio stations to build a better, faster, and cheaper PNT network.
Imagery and communications satellites were both used in search and rescue efforts for the Malaysian Airlines MH370 passenger airplane. Imagery of the search areas was provided on sites such as Tomnod in hopes that crowdsourcing imagery analysis would help in locating evidence of where the airplane might have disappeared.
As space activities and businesses using space assets grow, entrepreneurs are sensing opportunities in a growing space market. Mixing terrestrial legal expertise with Earth observation technologies, some lawyers are beginning to understand the benefits of space assets in cases that might have otherwise been difficult to win. Legal companies such as Air & Space Evidence are offering specialized space-centric services to clients who might need them. The company uses satellite imagery as part of its toolkit to combat fraud, find and monitor illegal activities, verify environmental claims, and conduct other activities.
Whether using multispectral imagery from satellite imagery providers such as DigitalGlobe, or synthetic aperture radar (SAR) products from satellites such as the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) TerraSAR-X, law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom and other countries are learning how crime-related investigations can benefit from satellite assistance. The constabulary is using SAR and imagery to reduce costs and time associated with conducting searches for hidden graves in urban locations.
Satellite imagery continues to be used in surprising ways. One startup, Terra Recovery, is using satellite remote sensing technology in tandem with flying drones to find mining opportunities in the United Kingdom and North America.
The United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) was expected to receive a budget of £## million (US$## million) in 2014, according to planning documents. Of that, £## million (US$## million) went toward the national space program and €## million (US$## million) went to the European Space Agency (ESA). This represented a ##% decrease from last year’s total civil space spending of £## million (US$## million), though the national budget increased by ##% from £## million (US$## million).
On a global level, government investment in space increased #% to $## billion. Because not all governments operate under the same fiscal cycle, space spending numbers were derived from the most recent budgetary information available for each country. As in previous years, the growth was not uniform, with some countries reducing the funding available for space activity, as shown below. The figures reported in the following country profiles are presented in both the local currency and U.S. dollars as of June 30 of the appropriate year.