China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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Soyuz Rocket Gets Hit by Lightning After Launch, Keeps on Soyuzing

Courtesy of Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. The Twitter translation into English reads:

Congratulations to the command of space troops, the combat calculation of the cosmodrome Plesetsk, the collectives of the “Progress” (Samara), the NGO named after S. A. Lavachkina (Khimki) and the ISS named after Academician M. F. Reshetnev (Zheleznogorsk) with the successful launch of the SPACECRAFT GLONASS! Lightning you don’t hindrance

Twitter might want to work on its translation program.

The Soyuz booster successfully orbited a GLONASS-M navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The Saturn V taking the Apollo 12 to the moon in 1969 was also struck by lightning after launch. The rocket was fine; the guidance system was deep inside the rocket. However, the electronics in the spacecraft were knocked out. Flight controller John Aaron said to flip the SCE switch to AUX. When Alan Bean did so, the spacecraft came back online.

Mission Control fretted about whether to send the crew to the moon. Everything seemed fine aboard the spacecraft, but there was one crucial system they couldn’t check: the parachutes. Controllers realized that in the unlikely event the lightning strike had fried the parachute deployment system, the crew would die anyway. Might as well send them to the moon.