Space Foundation Press Releases

The Space Report 2023 Q1 Finds U.S. Workforce Growth Amid Challenges, While Spaceport Development Surges to Meet Record Launch Demand

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

  • Key job sectors in the American space workforce saw five-year growth of 18%, but U.S. colleges saw a five-year decline in engineering students, raising concerns about future workforce needs.
  •  Strong Q1 merger and acquisition activity and capital inputs signaled continuing strength across the space industry despite higher interest rates and struggles in the banking sector.
  • Surging demand for space launch has helped drive a 48% increase in the number of planned spaceports globally.

 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — April 13, 2023 — Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering information, education and collaboration for the global space ecosystem, today released The Space Report 2023 Q1, which shows continued strength across the U.S. space industry despite tremors across the wider economy.

The industry logged six straight years of growth in the U.S. space workforce in 2022, with select workforce categories growing at an annual rate of 1%, despite a tight job market driving keen hiring competition. Employment in private sector jobs closely tied to the space industry reached more than 155,000 last year — the highest level since 2009 — with NASA and space-related military personnel adding another 45,000 employees.

Much of the growth in the space industry has centered on 10 U.S. states profiled in the Q1 edition. The states each have deep aerospace roots and are pivoting to meet the needs of fast-moving space startups. Warning signs about workforce availability are growing more urgent for the space industry, with a significant drop in undergraduate enrollment at American colleges and universities in space-related fields, including science and engineering, according to a survey of higher education institutions.

From a budget standpoint, a significant portion of industry growth can be attributed to continued strong U.S. federal spending on civil and military space programs. Congress has shown bipartisan support for continued space spending, with the Pentagon planning more than $30 billion for space programs in 2024 and NASA asking for more than $27 billion, including $8 billion for Moon to Mars programs and the related 2024 lunar flyby of Artemis II astronauts. A NASA study found that federal spending on civil space programs triggered $71 billion in economic activity across America in 2021.

Investment activity was healthy in the first quarter of 2023, with 12 space-related acquisitions/buyouts, 28 minority venture/private equity financings totaling approximately $681 million in funds raised, and five public equity-related transactions raising $78 million in gross proceeds.

Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor writes in the Q1 edition that ensuring continued growth across the space industry requires a campaign to better inform the public of the benefits derived from activities in orbit and beyond. “We must broaden the number of people from all levels of society who can encourage — even insist — that governments around the world recognize and fund space programs and work diligently to maintain the peaceful use of outer space for all countries and their citizens,” Zelibor stated.

Record activity in commercial space industries, contributing to records set for payloads sent to orbit in 2022 and orbital launch attempts, continues to drive a global push for new spaceports to add launch capacity. The Space Report found a 48% increase in the number of proposed spaceports over four years, with nations around the world developing spaceport policies and courting launch providers and other space industries with the intent of expanding their access to orbit.

The Q1 edition also examines the race to develop commercial space stations, with testing of designs showing early promise for firms ahead of full-scale manufacturing. Work is also underway for a string of proposed spacecraft to service satellites in orbit. The Space Report looks at how on-orbit servicing could be tailored to meet big needs even as the industry shifts toward smaller spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

For more information, visit www.spacesymposium

About The Space Report  

The Space Report, published by Space Foundation since 2006, is the authoritative report on the global space ecosystem, covering space exploration and space-to-Earth industries. Available on a subscription basis, The Space Report provides policy analysts, congressional staff, investors, media, and space industry newcomers with research and insight on a quarterly basis. Highlighting each report is an overview of the latest data available on the space economy, space infrastructure, and other key industry indicators as well as analysis of commercial, government and educational events impacting business, workforce and our daily lives. To learn more about The Space Report, visit

About Symposium 365  

Symposium 365 is the premier source for information and events in the global space ecosystem, offering authoritative news and insight as well as opportunities for networking and conducting business via Space Symposium and The Space Report. Serving commercial, government and education sectors, programs and resources are delivered in-person and online around the globe. To learn more about Symposium 365, visit www.spacesymposium

About Space Foundation 

Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering information, education and collaboration for the global space ecosystem. Driven by partnerships, Space Foundation unites the entire spectrum of stakeholders — business, government, education and local communities — through support from corporate members, sponsors, fundraising and grants. Visit Space Foundation at, and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.


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Tags: Space Foundation, The Space Report, Symposium 365, space launch, space technology, space innovation, space ecosystem, space advocate, space commerce, space exploration, space-to-Earth industries, satellites, space spending, space infrastructure, space startups, commercial space, space defense, space ports, space stations

Media Contacts:  

Rich Cooper
Vice President, Strategic Communications & Outreach
Space Foundation
(202) 596-0714
[email protected]  

Dottie O’Rourke
TECHMarket Communications
(650) 344-1260
[email protected]