Suborbital Spaceflight by the Numbers

New Shepard launches on its 21st flight of the program on June 4, 2022. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Part II of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 was a busy period in suborbital space with 23 launches conducted that did not involve tests of ballistic missiles or defensive systems. Twelve people flew above the Karman line, new boosters and space technologies were tested, and the first commercial suborbital launch was conducted from Australia. And some science was done.

We covered the above mentioned flights in depth in a story published on Tuesday. In this piece we’ll look a broader look at who launched what, when, where, why and on what.


A Busy Six Months as Suborbital Spaceflight Comes Into its Own

New Shepard lands after the NS-21 flight. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

Part I of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For decades, the suborbital launch sector was largely a backwater. Militaries tested ballistic missiles, scientists conducted experiments, and engineers tested new technologies. A sounding rocket is small potatoes compared with orbital rocket launches and the glamor of human spaceflight. Few people paid much attention.

All that has changed in recent years as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and their billionaire owners — Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos — started launching themselves and others on suborbital joyrides. Startups have been conducting suborbital flight tests of new orbital launch vehicles designed to serve the booming smalls satellite market. Suborbital has become a much more interesting sector.

This year has been no exception. The first half of 2022 saw Blue Origin send 12 people into space on two New Shepard flights, a Chinese company conduct six launches in a program to develop aa suborbital spaceplane and hypersonic transport, South Korea and Iran perform flight tests of three different smallsat launchers, Germany test technologies for reusable rockets, and first-ever commercial launch from Australia. And, a great deal of science was done.


Open Cosmos Signs Contract with ESA to Progress Key Elements of the NanoMagSat Mission Concept

NanoMagSat (Credit: Open Cosmos)

Open Cosmos signs contract with the European Space Agency to progress key elements of the NanoMagSat mission concept: a pioneering small satellite constellation to monitor Earth’s magnetic field and ionospheric environment

  • Through a €5.2m contract with ESA, Open Cosmos, together with IPGP, CEA-Leti, COMET-Ingenieria and University of Oslo are working on activities to de-risk the critical elements of the NanoMagSat mission;
  • The NanoMagSat mission concept is a small satellite constellation aiming at flying a novel suite of instruments to monitor the Earth magnetic field and the ionospheric environment at high revisit times;
  • The magnetic field of the Earth is crucial to life and acts as a shield against incoming energetic charged particles. Identifying and understanding Earth’s magnetic field multiple sources is also essential to aid precise navigation, reveal properties of the shallow and deep Earth, and provide key information for geophysical surveying of minerals;
  • The NanoMagSat mission aims to be a worthy successor of previous missions such as Oersted and CHAMP and ideally complement and extend the measurements of the electromagnetic field beyond the Swarm mission launched in 2013

OXFORD (Open Cosmos PR) — Open Cosmos – the leading SpaceTech startup simplifying access to space to help solve the world’s biggest challenges – is today announcing its latest contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the NanoMagSat mission concept.