Tenth Anniversary Release of UCS Satellite Database

March 3, 2016 | 12:25 pm
Laura Grego
Research Director, Senior Scientist

Happy birthday to the UCS Satellite Database! This month we are marking the 10th anniversary of the UCS Satellite Database.


(Source with UCS addition)

Our inaugural database was released in early December 2005, when we realized there was little public information of this kind.Estimates of total number of active satellites varied enormously, and comprehensive information about these satellites wasn’t really collected anywhere.

Additionally, we believed that the issues around the civil and military uses of space would benefit from solidly-researched information describing different states’ investments in space.

We wanted to be able to answer questions such as:

  • How many satellites does a given country have in orbit, and what are they used for?
  • How many satellites are used for military purposes versus commercial purposes?
  • Which countries have earth-observing satellites?
  • When was the oldest working satellite launched?
  • At what altitudes do most satellites orbit?
  • How are satellites distributed between orbits?

sat database table 3-3-16

The first database provided 22 categories of information about each of 810 active satellites.

Today’s release brings you 28 categories of information about 1381 active satellites. We have plans for new types of data and for improvements. (If you have suggestions, please take the survey below!)

We hear from users from civil space agencies, commercial space companies, militaries, and hobbyists. The Quick Facts are regularly cited in news reports and scholarly articles. We hope that it has been useful to you, and will continue to be.

If you are a Database user, we would deeply appreciate if you could take five minutes to respond to a short survey here:


We will be marking the anniversary with some new graphics and features on the Database and Space Security pages, here on the blog, and on Twitter @LauraEGrego and @ucsusa.org. Keep an eye out!