Over the last 57 years of space exploration a lot of countries have had some involvement in space. This can range from the building of rockets, designing experiments to go on board and even providing and training the astronauts who go into space. Due to the tremendous cost of space travel, exploration outside our planet has become a truly international affair.
That being said only a limited selection of countries possess the ability to launch something into orbit around the Earth. To date there are 9 countries that have orbital launch capability. These are Russia, the United States, France, Japan, China, India, Israel, Iran and North Korea. These 9 countries have the ability to build and launch an orbit capable vehicle. Great Britain developed launch capacity in the 1970’s but did not join the European consortium Arianespace, therefore losing this ability. A few other countries have inherited technology allowing them to make orbital flights. These include Ukraine and South Korea, and nine other European countries who have access through the combined effort of ESA and Arianespace.
Answered by Josh Barker from the National Space Centre
Image courtesy of NASA