The CIA knows a lot about other nations' space programs. You can too with its new 'World Factbook' update

a seal on a marble floor that reads "Central Intelligence Agency"
(Image credit: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

The CIA wants to share what it knows about world space programs. Some of what it knows, anyway.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency, better known as the CIA, has released a new entry in its World Factbook that catalogues the programs and milestones of NASA, as well as other space agencies around the world. Over 90 countries and the European Union are represented in the new Space Programs section of the agency's factbook, spanning from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

A CIA spokesperson told that, due to the increased visibility of space programs around the world, there is a need for the agency to provide "sound, reliable background information" for use by students of all ages, journalists, academics or anyone else looking for a "deep dive into a country and its space program." 

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The Space Programs factbook includes how much each nation spends on its space program, based on available spending estimates and budget information. The resource also includes brief listings on individual countries' key activities, both historical and current. 

All of the information in the new factbook section is unclassified and publicly available, and has been gathered together from open sources. Still, it might be surprising to some readers to learn which nations do, in fact, have a space program, the CIA spokesperson added. Nicaragua, for example, a country not commonly associated with spaceflight, pledged to spend over $250 million on a communications satellite with Chinese funding in 2013, according to the factbook.

The new Space Programs section is the first new appendix added to the CIA World Factbook since 2021. Its addition coincides with the 80th anniversary of the factbook's predecessor publication.

The agency's spokesperson said the CIA's Space Programs appendix is a "living document" that is expected to be updated weekly, but the agency hopes to be able to include more frequent updates in the future. 

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Brett Tingley
Managing Editor,

Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.