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The Patent Insight Report “Cosmonautics” is a part of a series of our joint studies with the European Patent Office in collaboration with the European Space Agency. These publicly available studies analyse global patent filing data to identify major trends and developments in specific sub-domains of the space sector.

This study analyses the current dynamism of the space sector through the prism of patent filing statistics. Through their public nature, patents provide means of observing technology trends, key innovators and policy impacts, which can be used by all space sector participants.

In this report, we investigated three decades of global and European patent filings involving close to 12 000 space-related patent families, addressing in particular the domain of cosmonautics, which is defined for the purpose of this study in line with B64G5 of the Cooperative Patent Classification and further mapped onto the associated eight technology domains and 41 subdomains of the ESA Technology Tree.

The study notes that there has been a steep worldwide increase in patenting activity in the past decade, with a distinct growth in Chinese patent filings, which for now are still filed mostly domestically. European activity in cosmonautics appears to be rather centralised, with the main innovators in Europe generally having their place of business either in Germany or in France. The three largest technology domains, in terms of the number of patent families identified, are spacecraft electrical power, space system control and propulsion.


Article published in collaboration with:

The European Patent Office examines European patent applications, enabling inventors, researchers and companies from around the world to obtain protection for their inventions in up to 44 countries. The EPO is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, an international organisation with 38 member states. The EPO’s activities and budget are overseen by the Organisation’s Administrative Council, which consists of representatives of the member states.


The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation with 22 member states. It is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.


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