Visualized: Which Countries are Dominating Space?
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Visualized: Which Countries are Dominating Space?

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Visualized: Which Countries are Dominating Space?

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Visualized: Which Countries are Dominating Space

Believe it or not, there is a lot of stuff in space. In fact, our atmosphere is filled with more than 11,000 objects that have been launched since the foray into space began.

The Space Race started during the Cold War, and early on the Soviet Union dominated when it came to the amount of devices and objects launched into our atmosphere. But a few years ago, the U.S. took back that title with Elon Musk’s SpaceX helping lead the charge.

This visual, using data from Our World in Data, breaks down the amount of objects launched into space by country over time.

What Gets Launched Into Space?

What are the objects being sent into our atmosphere and why are they so important? Here’s a look at just a few:

  • Satellites
  • Crewed spacecraft
  • Probes
  • Space station flight equipment

Probes and landers like the Mars Rover, for example, have helped scientists explore other planets. Satellites provide us with everyday necessities like cell phone service, far reaching television signals, satellite imagery, and GPS.

As of late 2021, there were around 4,852 operational satellites in orbit2,944 belonging to the United States. Here’s a quick look at what the U.S. uses its satellites for:

  • Commercial: 2,516
  • Military: 230
  • Government: 168
  • Civil: 30

Many satellites in orbit, however, are no longer functional. In fact, there is a lot of junk in space—according to NASA, there are over 27,000 pieces of space debris in orbit.

The Space Race, by Country

The venture into outer space began during the Cold War when the USSR launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1 in 1957. After this, the U.S. and Soviet Union entered a definitive competition between technological advancements and scientific exploration into space—an extension of the battle between political ideologies.

Few countries have come close in matching either the U.S. or Russia so far. Here’s a look at the cumulative number of objects different countries have launched into orbit and beyond.

RankCountry Cumulative Number of Objects Launched into Space
#1🇺🇸 United States5,534
#2🇷🇺 Russia3,611
#3🇨🇳 China 731
#4🇬🇧 UK 515
#5🇯🇵 Japan 300
#6🇫🇷 France130
#7🇮🇳 India 127
#8🇩🇪 Germany 114
#9🇨🇦 Canada 82
#10🇱🇺 Luxembourg53
#11🇮🇹 Italy52
#12🇰🇷 South Korea43
#13🇧🇷 Brazil 39
#14🇦🇺 Australia 36
#15🇧🇪 Belgium36
#16🇮🇱 Israel 30
#17🇪🇸 Spain29
#18🇺🇾 Uruguay 23
#19🇮🇩 Indonesia21
#20🇦🇷 Argentina20
#21🇸🇪 Sweden19
#22🇲🇽 Mexico18
#23🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia17
#24🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates17
#25🇹🇼 Taiwan17
#26🇫🇮 Finland 17
#27🇹🇷 Turkey16
#28🇨🇭 Switzerland15
#29🇹🇭 Thailand14
#30🇳🇿 New Zealand14
#31🇳🇴 Norway14
#32🇳🇱 Netherlands13
#33🇩🇰 Denmark12
#34🇪🇬 Egypt9
#35🇰🇿 Kazakhstan9
#36🇲🇾 Malaysia 9
#37🇱🇹 Lithuania9
#38🇺🇦 Ukraine8
#39🇵🇱 Poland8
#40🇻🇳 Vietnam7
#41🇵🇭 Philippines7
#42🇨🇿 Czechia7
#43🇩🇿 Algeria 6
#44🇮🇷 Iran 6
#45🇵🇰 Pakistan6
#46🇳🇬 Nigeria 5
#47🇿🇦 South Africa 5
#48🇭🇺 Hungary 5
#49🇻🇪 Venezuela4
#50🇵🇪 Peru 4
#51🇨🇱 Chile 4
#52🇲🇦 Morocco3
#53🇦🇿 Azerbaijan3
#54🇬🇷 Greece3
#55🇪🇪 Estonia3
#56🇧🇾 Belarus3
#57🇧🇬 Bulgaria3
#58🇦🇹 Austria3
#59🇨🇴 Colombia2
#60🇪🇨 Ecuador 2
#61🇰🇵 North Korea2
#62🇧🇩 Bangladesh2
#63🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea2
#64🇸🇰 Slovakia 2
#65🇸🇮 Slovenia2
#66🇬🇭 Ghana 1
#67🇪🇹 Ethiopia1
#68🇰🇪 Kenya 1
#69🇷🇼 Rwanda 1
#70🇦🇴 Angola 1
#71🇬🇹 Guatemala1
#72🇨🇷 Costa Rica1
#73🇧🇴 Bolivia1
#74🇵🇾 Paraguay1
#75🇲🇳 Mongolia1
#76🇹🇲 Turkmenistan1
#77🇯🇴 Jordan1
#78🇶🇦 Qatar 1
#79🇱🇰 Sri Lanka 1
#80🇳🇵 Nepal 1
#81🇧🇹 Bhutan 1
#82🇱🇦 Laos1
#83🇱🇻 Latvia1
#84🇷🇴 Romania1
#85🇲🇨 Monaco1
#86🇵🇹 Portugal1

One important disclaimer here is that not all of these countries have orbital launch capabilities, meaning that although the satellite in space may belong to a certain country, that doesn’t mean that it was launched by said country. For example, the UK’s first launch in 1971 was out of Australia and France’s first launch took place in Algeria in 1965.

In total, around 86 countries have attempted some kind of entry into space. However, as of 2022, only 11 countries have the ability to send objects into space using their own launch vehicles, and only three—the U.S., Russia, and China—have ever launched people into outer space.

The Future of Space

With corporations beginning to take the lead in this new frontier, the landscape of space launches is changing. In 2019 Starlink, a constellation of satellites which provides 36 countries with internet access, was launched. With over 2,200 Starlink satellites in the sky and counting, SpaceX’s ultimate goal is global internet coverage; China is planning a similar venture.

Beyond useful satellites and scientific exploration, other potential space industries are emerging.

As one example, the business of commercial space tourism is no longer a futuristic concept. In late 2021, famous billionaire and founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson flew briefly into space on a private flight. Jeff Bezos, having founded Blue Origin, followed shortly after.

Today, both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration for passenger space travel. However, if you want to be launched into space, it will cost you around $250,000-$500,000.

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Misc

Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.

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Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Sunstroke6,368
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Drowning10,386
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

Drowning

The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

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