SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.

Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Dragon Docks Delivering Science Benefitting Humans

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the space station during an orbital sunrise above the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 267 miles over the South Atlantic Ocean, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 11:21 a.m. EDT today, with NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins monitoring operations from the station.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 25th contracted commercial resupply mission for NASA at 8:44 p.m., Thursday, July 14, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

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Minerva Mission Begins as Samantha Cristoforetti Arrives at Space Station

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows off her yellow and white striped socks aboard the space station. The PGTIDE experiment tests a fully degradable detergent specifically for cleaning clothes (including socks) in space. (Credits: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Crew Dragon spacecraft Freedom, carrying ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and her NASA colleagues Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins, docked to the International Space Station at 01:37 CEST Thursday 28 April.

The docking marks the start of Samantha’s second space mission, known as Minerva.

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Crew-4 Arrives at International Space Station

Crew-4 arrives at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) now are aboard the International Space Station following Crew Dragon’s hatch opening about 9:15 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 27.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Launch to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA Mission Update

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew of astronauts will serve as the fourth commercial crew rotation mission aboard the space station.

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Watch SpaceX Launch Next Crew to Space Station on Wednesday

Official portrait of Crew-4 astronauts Bob Hines, Samantha Cristoforetti, Jessica Watkins and Kjell Lindgren. (Credit: NASA-J.Valcarcel/ R.Markowitz/N.Moran)

SpaceX Mission Update

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX and NASA are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, April 27 for Falcon 9’s launch of Crew-4, Dragon’s fourth science expedition mission to the International Space Station, from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch is targeted for 3:52 a.m. ET (7:52 UTC), with a backup opportunity available on Thursday, April 28.

This will be the first flight of the Dragon spacecraft supporting this mission and the fourth flight for Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, and Turksat 5B. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

During their time at the orbiting laboratory, the Crew-4 astronauts will conduct over 200 science experiments in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 4 hours before liftoff. 

Coverage Updated for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

NASA astronauts and Crew-4 crewmembers Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren stand alongside ESA astronaut and Crew-4 crewmember Samantha Cristoforetti. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Mission Update

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, which will send astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Freedom by the mission’s crew, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

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NASA and SpaceX Push Back Crew-4 Launch to April 27

NASA astronauts and Crew-4 crewmembers Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren stand alongside ESA astronaut and Crew-4 crewmember Samantha Cristoforetti. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, for launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Ax-1 Crew Departure Delayed to Saturday, Crew-4 Launch Delayed to NET Tuesday

The 11-person crew aboard the station comprises of (clockwise from bottom right) Expedition 67 Commander Tom Marshburn with Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov, Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer; and Axiom Mission 1 astronauts (center row from left) Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe, Larry Conner, and Michael Lopez-Alegria. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Briefing, Events, Broadcast

Official portrait of Crew-4 astronauts Bob Hines, Samantha Cristoforetti, Jessica Watkins and Kjell Lindgren. (Credit: NASA-J.Valcarcel/ R.Markowitz/N.Moran)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission sending astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch is targeted for 5:26 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, dubbed by Crew-4 as Freedom, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 6 a.m. Sunday, April 24.

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NASA and SpaceX Adjust the Agency’s Crew-4 Launch Date

NASA astronauts and Crew-4 crew members Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren stand alongside ESA astronaut and Crew-4 crewmember Samantha Cristoforetti. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 5:26 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The date adjustment provides mission teams time to complete final prelaunch processing for the Crew-4 mission following the April 8 launch of Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) to the space station.

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Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is seen outside the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft after he landed with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Vande Hei and Dubrov are returning to Earth after logging 355 days in space as members of Expeditions 64-66 aboard the International Space Station. For Vande Hei, his mission is the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut in history. Shkaplerov is returning after 176 days in space, serving as a Flight Engineer for Expedition 65 and commander of Expedition 66. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After extending the record for the longest single spaceflight in history by an American to 355 days, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth on Wednesday, March 30, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.

The trio departed the International Space Station at 3:21 a.m. EDT and made a safe, parachute-assisted landing at 7:28 a.m. (5:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

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