Countries By Number of Military Satellites in the World

The Countries By Number of Military Satellites in the World are the United States, Russia, and China.

A military satellite is a man-made spacecraft that is sent into space for military purposes. Satellites are primarily used for communication, navigation, and intelligence collection. Some satellites were also created in order to provide early warning of impending missiles. In 1960, the US Navy launched the first navigation satellite. By 2013, there were 950 distinct types of satellites in Earth’s orbit. The total number of military satellites in the world is estimated to be 320, with some governments possessing many and others possessing none. The United States is responsible for approximately half of all military satellites in orbit.

Number of Military Satellites in the World
Number of Military Satellites in the World ( Image Credit: Flickr )

Countries By Number of Military Satellites

United States

The United States has 123 military satellites. In the 1950s, the first formal military satellite projects were developed and launched in the United States. Weapon System 117L was the first project. The first satellites launched were called Discoverer, and they were meant to survey and photograph the Earth. The first satellite, Discoverer-1, was launched on February 28, 1959. Several projects have been completed in the United States, including Corona, Canyon, Aquacade, Orion, Magnum, and Trumpet. The most recent satellite to be launched was a Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) spacecraft. The satellite was developed by Boeing and was the ninth to be launched as part of the US Air Force’s ten-member satellite project. The satellites will be utilized to communicate. Intelsat is a commercial satellite operator managed by the United States military space forces.


Russia is the owner of 74 military satellites. In the 1960s, Russia, as part of the Soviet Union, began a military space station program. Almaz was a program that wanted to use space stations instead of satellites. The program was operational from 1973 to 1976, with three stations designated Salyut 2, 3, and 5. The initiative was later canceled because the stations were too expensive to maintain in comparison to autonomous satellites. Russia launched its first satellite, Kosmos 1, on March 16, 1962. On December 2, 2017, Russia launched its newest satellite, which will be used to detect, track, and destroy missiles aimed at the nation. The satellite will also alert the authorities to the presence of assault missiles. Kosmos 2524 is the name of the satellite.

People’s Republic of China

China has 68 military satellites on the way. Chinese space exploration stretches back to the 1950s. Yaogan is the name of the military-operated satellites. On November 24, 2017, Yaogan 30D, 30E, and 30F were released. The three are claimed to be experimental and will be used to gather intelligence. The satellites are owned and operated by the People’s Liberation Army. The satellites were built by the Micro-Satellite Research Institute. The next Yaogan satellites are expected to be smaller, with better sensors, and capable of surveying at lower altitudes.

Military Satellites By Other Countries

Other countries, including as France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, and Japan, have fewer than 10 military satellites. The actual number of military satellites is difficult to determine due to secrecy and some having GPS satellites serving both military and civilian purposes. The number of satellites is rising yearly due to continuing satellite projects and the launch of more spacecraft, and with new technology, newer satellites can gather more information and perform more duties.

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Which Country Has the Most Military Satellites?

The countries possessing the most military satellites are the United States, Russia, and China. They each have 123, 74, and 68 satellites.

Countries By Number of Military Satellites

RankCountryNumber of Military Satellites
1United States123
3People’s Republic of China68
7United Kingdom7
12United Arab Emirates2
14Republic of China1

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