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The Past Week in Launches: SpaceX and CASC Orbit Satellites

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 21, 2022
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Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on Aug. 19, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a relatively quiet week for launches with by SpaceX and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) both conducting one flight apiece.

SpaceX launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Friday. The company has launched 3,108 Starlink satellites with 2,809 spacecraft working, according to Jonathan’s Space Report.

It was the ninth flight for the Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, and now four Starlink missions. The first stage landed on an offshore drone ship.

On Saturday, CASC launched the Yaogan 35-04A, Yaogan 35-04B and Yaogan 35-04C reconnaissance satellites aboard a Long March 2D rocket for the Chinese Academy of Sciences. CASC conducted the flight from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

CASC said it was a record 103rd consecutive successful launch of the Long March rocket family, which has flown 433 times overall.

Launches to Date

U.S. companies have launched 54 times this year, with 52 successes and two failures. The number exceeds the 51 orbital launches (48 successful, three failures) that American providers conducted in 2021. It also exceeds the 51 launches (with two failures) conducted by the rest of the world this year.

SpaceX has launched 37 Falcon 9 rockets this year, all successfully. Both U.S. failures were by Astra Space, which retired its Rocket 3.3 booster.

Orbital Launches by Nation
January – August 21, 2022

NationSuccessesFailuresTotalPercentage of Total LaunchesNotes
United States5225451.43Includes Rocket Lab Electron launches from New Zealand; final flight of Rocket 3.3 (failure)
China3113230.48Crew, cargo and module launches to space station; successful maiden flights of Long March 6A and ZK-1A
Russia1201211.43Includes 1 Soyuz ST-B launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana conducted by Arianespace; successful maiden flight of Angara-1.2
India2132.862 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (success), Small Satellite Launch Vehicle debut (failure — maiden flight)
Europe2021.90Ariane 5, maiden flight of Vega-C
Iran1010.95Qased launch vehicle
South Korea1010.95First successful launch of domestically produced orbital launch vehicle (Nuri); second sucessfull orbital launch by nation

Chinese companies have launched 32 times this year, with 31 successes and a failure. CASC has launched 28 times. CAS Space, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), and Galactic Energy have each launched once. The lone Chinese launch failure was by i-space’s Hyperbola launch vehicle.

Russia has launched a dozen times, India thrice, and Europe twice. Iran and South Korea have one launch apiece. And Japan is still not yet on the board.