U.S. & Dominated Launch Industry in 2022, Russia Finishes a Distant Third
Part I of II
SpaceX conducted its 61st launch of 2022 on Thursday to wrap up a record year that saw 186 orbital launch attempts worldwide. A Falcon 9 booster launched the EROS-C3 for ImageSat of Israel from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Let’s take a look at launch totals worldwide and how the top three nations — United States, China and Russia — faired this year. We will look at launches by other nations in a future post.
2022: 186 (178-7-1)
2021: 146 (135-10-1)
There were 178 successful launches, seven failures and one partial failure in 2022. There were 146 launch attempts last year.
The United States and China combined for 151 launches, with 146 successes, four failures and one partial failure. That represents 81.2% of all launch attempts. The number rise to 173 launches (93%) when Russia’s 22 launches are included.
Orbital Launches by Nation
|Nation||Successes||Failures||Partial Failures||Total||Percentage of Total|
The rest of the world launched 13 times, with 10 successes and three failures. Japan’s lone launch attempt of the year failed.
South Korea conducted its first successful launch of a domestically manufactured booster when a Nuri rocket roared off the pad at the Naro Space Center on June 21. It was the second launch for the booster, which failed on its maiden flight in 2021.
For a recap of Europe’s launch year, see Vega-C Launch Failure Ends Frustrating Year for Europe.
2022: 87 (84-2-1)
2021: 51 (48-3-0)
SpaceX’s 61 launches were nearly double the 31 flights the company conducted in 2021. That amounts to 75% of the 40 additional launch attempts conducted worldwide this year.
U.S. Launches by Booster
|Company/Agency||Launch Vehicle(s)||Successes||Failures||Partial Failures||Total|
|SpaceX||Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy||61||0||0||61|
|United Launch Alliance||Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy||8||0||0||8|
|Astra Space||Rocket 3.3||1||2||0||3|
|NASA||Space Launch System||1||0||0||0|
|Firefly Aerospace||Firefly Alpha||0||0||1||1|
Thirty-four Falcon 9 flights launched 1,722 Starlink broadband satellites. The company has launched 3,666 Starlink spacecraft since February 2018. SpaceX also launched more than 400 satellites on three Transporter rideshare missions this year. Total payloads launched by SpaceX exceeded 2,000 in 2022.
(For more information on SpaceX’s Transporter missions, see Who Launched What on SpaceX’s Five Transporter Missions.)
SpaceX launched 40 broadband satellites for OneWeb, which is a rival of Starlink. It was the first of three launches of OneWeb satellites booked after plans to launch on six Soyuz boosters fell through after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
NASA launched the much-delayed Space Launch System for the first time. An Orion spacecraft conducted a 25.5-day flight test to the moon in preparation for flying astronauts on the Artemis II mission.
Rocket Lab set a new record of nine launches in one year. Firefly Aerospace orbited satellites for the first time on the second flight of its Firefly Apha booster. And United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched an uncrewed Boeing Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).
2022: 64 (62-2)
2021: 56 (53-3)
China set a new record with 64 launch attempts in 2022. The figure included 62 successes and two failures.
The government-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) accounted for 53 of the 64 launches this year. Six other companies launched 11 times, with nine successes and two failures.
Chinese Launches, 2022
|Launch Vehicle Family||Company||Successes||Failures||Total|
|Long March 2||CASC*||24||0||24|
|Long March 4||CASC*||11||0||11|
|Long March 3||CASC*||4||0||4|
|Long March 6++||CASC*||4||0||4|
|Long March 11||CASC*||4||0||4|
|Long March 7||CASC*||3||0||3|
|Long March 5||CASC*||2||0||2|
|Long March 8||CASC*||1||0||1|
+ China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) subsidiary
^ China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
** Spinoff of Chinese Academy of Sciences
+ Maiden launch
++ Maiden launch of Long March 6A
CASC’s Long March 6A, China Rocket’s Jielong-3 and CAS Space’s ZK-1A made successful maiden flights in 2022. LandSpace’s Zhuque-2 booster failed on its first flight.
China launched two crews, two modules and two resupply ships to its Tiangong space station. The modules completed initial construction of the orbiting facility. These flights will be discussed in greater depth below.
2021: 25 (24-0-1)
Russia’s launch total would have been higher if not for a rupture in relations with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The launches of six Soyuz boosters carrying more than 200 OneWeb broadband satellites were canceled. The European Space Agency (ESA) also canceled the launch of its ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover aboard a Russian Proton booster.
Russian Launches, 2022
|Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation||Plesetsk||10|
|Roscosmos||Baikonur, Plesetsk, Vostochny||10|
|Russian Aerospace Forces||Plesetsk||1|
Four different variants of the Soyuz rocket were used for 20 launches. The Angara 1.2 and Proton boosters flew one time apiece.
Russia put 85 spacecraft into orbit in 2022. The figure includes 34 OneWeb satellites launched aboard a single Soyuz ST-B rocket before cooperation on launches with Europe ended. Another 17 spacecraft were launched on a rideshare mission by a Soyuz-2.1b booster.
Launches were conducted by Roscosmos, Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation, Russian Aerospace Forces and Arianespace from four different spaceports in three countries.
For more details on Russia’s launches this year, see our other stories:
- Russia’s 2022 Launch Total Reduced by Ruptured Relations with West Over Ukraine
- The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Dmitrys: Russian Space Industry Ends 2022 in Isolation.
Space Station Flights
There were 19 launches to the world’s two space stations in 2022. Thirteen spacecraft were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) while six vehicles docked with China’s orbital facility.
ISS launches included four launches of crew members aboard Russian Soyuz and SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicles. SpaceX also launched the private Axiom-1 mission with three paying customers that was commanded by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria.
International Space Station Launches & Departures
|Jan. 24, 2022||—||Cargo Dragon 2||Capsule return (launched Dec. 21, 2021)||None|
|Feb. 15, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-19 (80P)||ISS resupply||None|
|Feb. 19, 2022||Antares||Cygnus NG-17||ISS resupply||None|
|March 18, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Soyuz MS-21||ISS crew||Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov|
|March 30, 2022||—||Soyuz MS-19||ISS crew return||Anton Shkoplerov, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei|
|April 8, 2022||Falcon 9||Crew Dragon||Axiom Mission-1 Launch||Michael Lopez Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe|
|April 25, 2022||—||Crew Dragon||Axiom Mission-1 Return||Michael Lopez Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe|
|April 27, 2022||Falcon 9||Crew Dragon||ISS Crew-4 launch||Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Christoferetti|
|May 6, 2022||—||Crew Dragon||ISS Crew-3 return (launched Nov 11, 2021)||Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Matthias Mauer, Kayla Barron|
|May 19, 2022||Atlas V||CST-100 Starliner||Uncrewed flight test||None|
|May 25, 2022||—||CST-100 Starliner||Capsule return||None|
|June 1, 2022||—||Progress MS-18||Capsule departure (launched Oct. 28, 2021)||None|
|June 3, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-20||Resupply||None|
|June 29, 2022||—||Cygnus NG-17||Resupply ship departure||None|
|July 15, 2022||Falcon 9||Cargo Dragon CRS-25||ISS resupply||None|
|Aug. 20, 2022||—||Cargo Dragon CRS-25||Capsule return||None|
|Sept. 19, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Soyuz MS-22||ISS crew||Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, Frank Rubio|
|Sept. 29, 2022||—||Soyuz MS-21||Crew return||Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov|
|Oct. 5, 2022||Falcon 9||Crew Dragon||Crew-5 launch||Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata, Anna Kikina|
|Oct. 14, 2022||Crew Dragon||ISS Crew-4 return||Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Christoferetti|
|Oct. 24, 2022||Progress MS-19||Resupply ship departure||None|
|Oct. 26, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-21||ISS resupply||None|
|Nov. 7, 2022||Antares||Cygnus NS-18||ISS Resupply||None|
|Nov. 26, 2022||SpaceX||Cargo Dragon (CRS-26)||ISS Resupply||None|
Boeing launched an uncrewed flight test of its Starliner spacecraft in May. NASA astronauts will fly to ISS on a flight test in 2022.
Russia launched three Progress resupply ships to the station. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman launched two cargo ships apiece.
Chinese Space Station
China completed construction of its Tiangong space station by launching the Wentian and Mengtian modules in July and October, respectively. They were docked to the Tianhe core module.
Tiangong Launches and Return Flights
2 Station Modules
|Date||Launch Vehicle||Launch Site||Spacecraft||Purpose||Crew|
|April 16, 2022||—||—||Shenzhou-13||Crew return||Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, Ye Guangfu (launched Oct. 15, 2021)|
|May 9, 2022||Long March 7||Wenchang||Tianzhou 4||Resupply||None|
|June 5, 2022||Long March 2F||Jiuquan||Shenzhou-14||Crew launch||Chen Dong, Liu Yang, Cai Xuzhe|
|July 24, 2022||Long March 5B||Wenchang||Wentian||Station module||None|
|Oct. 31, 2022||Long March 5B||Wenchang||Mengtian||Station module||None|
|Nov. 9, 2022||—||—||Tianzhou-4||Resupply ship departure||None|
|Nov. 12, 2022||Long March 7||Wenchang||Tianzhou-5||Station resupply||None|
|Nov. 29, 2022||Long March 2F||Jiuquan||Shenzhou-15||Crew launch||Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, Zhang Lu|
The crews of Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 conducted the first in-orbit handover of the space station in December. Tiangong was left empty after the first two crews departed.
China conducted two resupply flights with the Tinazhou-4 and Tianzhou-5 cargo ships.
Launches by Spaceport
Florida remained the busiest location in the world with 57 orbital launches. The figure includes 38 launches from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and 19 more from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Vandenberg Space Force Base in California hosted 16 launches. The Mid_Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia and the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California each hosted two launches. The Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska hosted one launch.
Launches by Location, 2022
|Launch Site||Country||Successes||Failures||Partial Failure||Total|
|Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)||USA||2||0||0||2|
|Mojave Air and Space Port||USA||2||0||0||2|
|East China Sea||China||1||0||0||1|
|Naro Space Center||South Korea||1||0||0||1|
|Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska||USA||1||0||0||1|
|Shahrud Missile Test Site||Iran||1||0||0||1|
Jiquan Satellite Launch Center led all Chinese spaceports with 25 flights, followed by Xichang (16), Taiyuan (14) and Wenchang (6). Two launches were conducted from a floating platform in the Yellow Sea and one from the East China Sea.
Russian launches were divided between Plesetsk Cosmodrome (13), Baikonur Cosmodrome (7), Europe’s Spaceport (1), and Vostochny Cosmodrome (1).