Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

U.S. & China Dominated Launch Industry in 2022, Russia Finishes a Distant Third

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 30, 2022
A SpaceX Faclon 9 launches the O3b mPOWER FM21 and O3b mPower FM22 communications satellites from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 16, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

Part 1 of 2

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.

Orbital Launches
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

NationSuccessesFailuresPartial FailuresTotalPercentage of Total
United States84218746.8
South Korea10010.5

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.

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

U.S. Launches
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/AgencyLaunch Vehicle(s)SuccessesFailuresPartial FailuresTotal
SpaceXFalcon 9, Falcon Heavy610061
Rocket LabElectron9009
United Launch AllianceAtlas V, Delta IV Heavy8008
Astra Space Rocket 3.31203
Northrop GrummanAntares2002
Virgin OrbitLauncherOne2002
NASA Space Launch System1000
Firefly AerospaceFirefly Alpha0011

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).

Long March 5B launches the Mengtian space station module on Oct. 31, 2022. (Credit: CNSA)

Chinese Launches
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 FamilyCompanySuccessesFailuresTotal
Long March 2CASC*24024
Long March 4CASC*11011
Long March 3CASC*404
Long March 6++CASC*404
Long March 11CASC*404
Long March 7CASC*303
Ceres-1Galactic Energy202
Long March 5CASC*202
Jielong-3+China Rocket^101
Long March 8CASC*101
ZK-1A+CAS Space**101
Zhuque-2 (ZQ-2)+LandSpace011
* China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
+ 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.

The Soyuz MS-22 rocket is launched to the International Space Station with Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos onboard, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in March 2023. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Russian Launches
2022: 22-0-0
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

Company/AgencyLaunch SiteLaunches
Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian FederationPlesetsk10
RoscosmosBaikonur, Plesetsk, Vostochny10
Russian Aerospace ForcesPlesetsk1
ArianespaceFrench Guiana1

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:

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)

Space Station Flights
13 ISS
6 Tiangong

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

DateLaunch VehicleSpacecraftPurposeCrew
Jan. 24, 2022Cargo Dragon 2Capsule return (launched Dec. 21, 2021)None
Feb. 15, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-19 (80P)ISS resupplyNone
Feb. 19, 2022AntaresCygnus NG-17ISS resupplyNone
March 18, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-21ISS crewOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov
March 30, 2022Soyuz MS-19ISS crew 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 DragonISS Crew-4 launchKjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Christoferetti
May 6, 2022Crew DragonISS Crew-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-20ResupplyNone
June 29, 2022Cygnus NG-17Resupply ship departureNone
July 15, 2022Falcon 9Cargo Dragon CRS-25ISS resupplyNone
Aug. 20, 2022Cargo Dragon CRS-25Capsule returnNone
Sept. 19, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-22ISS crewSergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, Frank Rubio
Sept. 29, 2022Soyuz MS-21Crew returnOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov
Oct. 5, 2022Falcon 9Crew DragonCrew-5 launchNicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata, Anna Kikina
Oct. 14, 2022Crew DragonISS Crew-4 returnKjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Christoferetti
Oct. 24, 2022Progress MS-19Resupply ship departureNone
Oct. 26, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-21ISS resupplyNone
Nov. 7, 2022AntaresCygnus NS-18ISS ResupplyNone
Nov. 26, 2022SpaceXCargo Dragon (CRS-26)ISS ResupplyNone
Source: Wikipedia

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 after assembly. (Credit: CASC)

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 Crew
2 Resupply
2 Station Modules

DateLaunch VehicleLaunch SiteSpacecraftPurposeCrew
April 16, 2022Shenzhou-13Crew returnZhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, Ye Guangfu (launched Oct. 15, 2021)
May 9, 2022Long March 7WenchangTianzhou 4ResupplyNone
June 5, 2022Long March 2FJiuquanShenzhou-14Crew launchChen Dong, Liu Yang, Cai Xuzhe
July 24, 2022Long March 5BWenchangWentianStation moduleNone
Oct. 31, 2022Long March 5BWenchangMengtianStation moduleNone
Nov. 9, 2022Tianzhou-4Resupply ship departureNone
Nov. 12, 2022Long March 7WenchangTianzhou-5Station resupplyNone
Nov. 29, 2022Long March 2FJiuquanShenzhou-15Crew launchFei 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.

An Ariane 5 rocket launches the Galaxy 35 and Galaxy 36 geosynchronous communications satellites for Intelsat and the MTG-I1 meteorology satellite for Eumetsat. (Credit: Arianespace)

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 SiteCountrySuccessesFailuresPartial FailureTotal
Cape CanaveralUSA362038
MahiaNew Zealand9009
KourouFrench Guiana5106
Satish DhawanIndia4105
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)USA2002
Mojave Air and Space PortUSA2002
Yellow SeaChina2002
East China SeaChina1001
Naro Space CenterSouth Korea1001
Pacific Spaceport Complex — AlaskaUSA1001
Shahrud Missile Test SiteIran1001

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).

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