World Conducted 126 Orbital Launches During First 9 Months (+ 1 Day) of 2022

The final Delta IV Heavy launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Credit: ULA)

The world has conducted 126 launches through Oct. 1, with 122 successes and four failures, in what is shaping up to be a record year for orbital flights.

U.S. companies led by SpaceX have accounted for 63 launches, or 50 percent of the global total. China is in second place with 42 launches. The United States and China account for 105 launches, or 83.33 percent of all orbital attempts in 2022.

Orbital Launches by Nation
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

NationSuccessesFailuresTotalPercentage of TotalNotes
United States6126350Includes Rocket Lab Electron launches from New Zealand; 2 Crew Dragon and 1 Cargo Dragon flights to ISS; CST-100 Starliner flight to ISS: first successful launch of Alpha; final flight of Rocket 3.3 (failure)
China4114233.33Crew, cargo and module launches to space station; Reusable Experimental Spacecraft flight; successful maiden flights of Long March 6A and ZK-1A boosters
Russia1301310.3Includes 1 Soyuz ST-B launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana conducted by Arianespace; 2 Soyuz crew and 2 Progress cargo launches to ISS; successful maiden flight of Angara 1.2
Europe3032.4Successful Vega-C maiden flight, 2 Ariane 5 launches
India2132.42 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, Small Satellite Launch Vehicle maiden flight (failure)
Iran1010.8Qased launch vehicle
South Korea1010.8First successful launch of domestically produced orbital launch vehicle (Nuri); rocket failed in maiden flight in 2021

Russia has launched 13 times, or 10.3 percent of global flights. Europe and India have launched three times apiece, and Iran and South Korea once each.

Japan has yet to launch this year. The nation is scheduled to launch an Epsilon rocket with eight satellites aboard on Thursday, Oct. 6 from Uchinoura Space Center.

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)

International Space Station

ISS operations continued normally despite tensions among the partners over the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, and repeated threats by Roscosmos to leave the program over sanctions imposed by the West.

Russia launched two three-member Soyuz crew and two Progress resupply ships to the space station. SpaceX launched two four-member crews and a cargo ship. Boeing completed an uncrewed flight test of its CST-100 spacecraft. Northrop Grumman launched a Cygnus resupply ship to the station.

International Space Station Launches & Departures
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

DateLaunch VehicleSpacecraftPurposeCrew
Jan. 24, 2022Cargo Dragon 2Capsule return (launched Dec. 21, 2021)None
Feb. 15, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-19 (80P)Resupply launchNone
Feb. 19, 2022AntaresCygnus NG-17Resupply launchNone
March 18, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-21Crew launchOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov
March 30, 2022Soyuz MS-19crew returnAnton Shkoplerov, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei
April 8, 2022Falcon 9Crew DragonAxiom Mission-1 launchMichael Lopez Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe
April 25, 2022Crew DragonAxiom Mission-1 returnMichael Lopez Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe
April 27, 2022Falcon 9Crew DragonCrew-4 launchKjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Christoferetti
May 6, 2022Crew DragonCrew-3 return (launched Nov 11, 2021)Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Matthias Mauer, Kayla Barron
May 19, 2022Atlas VCST-100 StarlinerUncrewed flight testNone
May 25, 2022CST-100 StarlinerCapsule returnNone
June 1, 2022Progress MS-18Capsule departure (launched Oct. 28, 2021)None
June 3, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-20Resupply launchNone
June 29, 2022Cygnus NG-17Resupply ship departureNone
July 15, 2022Falcon 9Cargo Dragon CRS-25ResupplyNone
Aug. 20, 2022Cargo Dragon CRS-25Capsule returnNone
Sept. 19, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-22Crew launchSergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, Frank Rubio
Sept. 29, 2022Soyuz MS-21Crew returnOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov

The first fully private crewed flight to the space station was launched aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon on April 8. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria commanded the Ax-1 mission with three paying customers: American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe. The three men reportedly paid $55 million apiece for their flights.

The Ax-1 astronauts conducted a series of experiments and educational projects during their nearly 17-day mission, which ended on April 25. It was the second private mission launched by SpaceX following the Inspiration4 flight during which four individuals spent three days in Earth orbit aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft in September 2021.

Chinese Space Station

Astronauts Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang. (Credit: CASC)

The Shenzhou-13 crew of Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu ended a 6-month mission aboard China’s Tiangong space station in April. The Tianzhou-4 resupply ship was launched the following month.

China launched a new three-member crew of Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe on June 5. The Shenzhou-14 taikonauts are the third crew to occupy China’s first permanent space station, and the second one scheduled for a six-month mission. The first three taikonauts to occupy the station last year stayed for three months.

Tiangong Launches and Return Flights
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

DateLaunch VehicleLaunch SiteSpacecraftPurposeCrew
April 16, 2022Long March 2FJiuquanShenzhou-13Crew returnZhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, Ye Guangfu (launched Oct. 15, 2021)
May 9, 2022Long March 7WenchangTianzhou-4Resupply launchNone
June 5, 2022Long March 2FJiuquanShenzhou-14Crew launchChen Dong, Liu Yang, Cai Xuzhe
July 24, 2022Long March 5BWenchangWentianStation module launchNone

The Shenzhou-14 taikonauts will oversee the initial assembly of the space station during their mission. The 23-metric ton Wentian module was launched on July 24, docking with the station early the next day after a 13-hour flight.

Chinese Wentian space station module (Credit: Leebrandoncremer, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The 17.9 meter long module includes laboratory equipment for life sciences, biotechnology and variable gravity experiments. The module also has 22 external mounting devices that will allow for the attachment of unpressurized experiments. Wentian features a robotic arm that is half the size as the one mounted on the outside of the Tianhe core module.

Wentian includes three sleeping berths, a kitchen and a toilet to accommodate the expansion of the station’s full-time complement from three to six taikonauts. The module will provide additional propulsion, control and avionics to back up the Tianhe core. Wentian is powered by two solar panels.

Chinese Mengtian space station module (Credit: Leebrandoncremer, CC BY-SA 4.0)

China will launch the Mengtian laboratory module within the next month to complete initial assembly of the space station. Mengtian is similar in size and design to Wentian.

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on July 24, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

Orbital Launches by Company

SpaceX has ruled the roost this year with 43 launches of its partially reusable Falcon 9 booster. Twenty-nine launches were dedicated to the orbiting 1,455 satellites for the company’s Starlink broadband constellation. Three Transporter rideshare missions carried 204 payloads, including 10 Starlink spacecraft.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is a close second with 35 Long March launches. CASC and SpaceX have combined for 78 launches, or 61.9 percent of total launches worldwide.

Orbital Launches by Company/Agency
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

Company/ OrganizationNationSuccessesFailuresTotal
SpaceXUnited States43043
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)China35035
Rocket LabUnited States707
Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation (RVSN SF)Russia606
United Launch Alliance (ULA)United States606
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)India213
Astra SpaceUnited States123
Virgin OrbitUnited States202
Northrop GrummanUnited States101
CAS SpaceChina101
Firefly AerospaceUnited States101
Galactic EnergyChina101
Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)South Korea101
Russian Aerospace Force (VKS)Russia101
Islamic Revolutionary Guard CorpsIran101

The table falls off precipitously from there, with every other launch provider in single digits. Rocket Lab leads the rest with seven successful Electron launches, a new record for the company in a calendar year.

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off on maiden flight. (Credit: ISRO)

New Launch Vehicles Debut

Four launch vehicles — Russia’s Angara-1.2, Europe’s Vega-C, and China’s Long March 6A and ZK-1A (Lijian-1) — made successful maiden flights this year. Vega-C and Long March 6A are significantly upgraded versions of the Vega and Long March 6 boosters.

Launches of New Boosters
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

DateLaunch VehicleLaunch ProviderLaunch SiteNotes
March 29, 2022Long March 6ACASC (China)Taiyuan (China)Successful maiden launch. Upgraded Long March 6 with two first stage engines and four solid-rocket boosters
April 29, 2022Angara-1.2Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation (RVSN RF)Plesestk (Russia)Successful maiden orbital launch; suborbital test conducted in 2014
June 21, 2022Nuri (KSLV-II)KARI (South Korea)Naro (South Korea)Successful on second launch; maiden flight failed in 2021
July 13, 2022Vega CArianespace (Europe)Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)Successful maiden flight; upgraded version of Vega booster with 50% more payload capacity
July 27, 2022ZK-1A (Lijian-1)CAS Space (China)Jiuquan (China)Successful maiden flight; commercial spinoff of Chinese Academy of Sciences
Aug. 7, 2022Small Satellite Launch VehicleISRO (India)Satish Dhawan (India)Failure; fourth stage failed to fire
Oct. 1, 2022AlphaFirefly Aerospace (USA)Vandenberg (USA)Successful on second launch; maiden flight failed in 2021
Source: Wikipedia

Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha and South Korea’s Nuri rockets succeeded on their second launches after suffering catastrophic failures during maiden flights in 2021.

India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle failed during its maiden launch when the booster’s fourth stage failed to fire. The first three stages performed nominally.

Ariane 5 launches on June 22, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

Launches by Location

Florida has hosted 41 orbital launches this year, making it the busiest location in the world. Twenty-eight launches have been conducted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, with 13 more from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Thirteen launches have originated from California, including 11 from Vandenberg and two from the Mojave Air and Space Port. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia and Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska have each hosted one launch apiece.

Rocket Lab, which is an American company, launched Electron boosters seven times from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Launches by Location
Jan. 1 – Oct. 1 2022

Launch SiteCountrySuccessesFailuresTotal
Cape CanaveralUnited States26228
KennedyUnited States13013
VandenbergUnited States11011
MahiaNew Zealand707
Europe’s SpaceportFrench Guiana404
Satish DhawanIndia213
Mojave Air and Space PortUnited States202
Tai Rui Launch Platform, East China SeaChina101
Mid-Atlantic Regional SpaceportUnited States101
Naro Space CenterSouth Korea101
Pacific Spaceport Complex — AlaskaUnited States101
Shahrud Missile Test SiteIran101

China’s 42 launches have been divided between Jiuquan (17), Taiyuan (10), Xichang (10), Wenchang (4) and a platform in the East China Sea (1).

There have been seven launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia and five launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A Russian Soyuz ST-B rocket was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. There have been no launches this year from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

Europe’s Spaceport has experienced a relatively quiet year with only four launches to date. Three launches have been conducted from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

South Korea’s Naro Space Center and Iran’s Shahrud Missile Test Site have each hosted one launch apiece.