It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.
A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.
China placed communications and technology demonstration satellites into orbit in separate launches on Thursday and Friday. The successful missions marked the 46th and 47th launches by China in 2021, with 45 successes and two failures.
On Friday, a Long March 3B rocket launched the ChinaSat-1D communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The geosynchronous satellite will be used for military communications.
The spacecraft and the launch vehicle were build by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
On Thursday, a Kuaizhou-1A solid-fuel booster launched the Shiyan 11 satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The rocket’s builder, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., did not disclose the purpose of the technology demonstration spacecraft.
The Kuaizhou-1A small-satellite launcher has a record of 12 successes and one failure.
SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
China’s Kauizhou 11 booster failed on its maiden flight on Friday, destroying two satellites and dealing a setback to the nation’s commercial launch industry.
The three-stage, solid-fuel rocket apparently failed during the latter stages of flight after lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Chinese media said an investigation is under way.
Destroyed in the launch failure were the Jilin-1 video satellite and the CentiSpace-1-S2 navigation spacecraft.
Operated by Expace, the booster is a larger version of the Kauizhou 1A launcher. Kauizhou 11 is designed to launch payloads weighing 1,000 kg into sun synchronous orbit.
Expace is a commercial spin-off from the stage-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.
China has launched 19 times this year, with 16 successes and three failures. In March, the Long March 7A booster was destroyed during its maiden flight. A Long March 3B failed in flight the following month.
A Chinese Kuaizhou-1A rocket launched two Internet of Things (IoT) communications satellites into Earth orbit on Tuesday.
The rocket lifted off with the Xingyun-2 01 and 02 satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 9:16 a.m. Beijing time.
The spacecraft, developed by the Xingyun Satellite Co., will test IoT applications and inter-satellite laser communications while in orbit.
Kuaizhou-1A is a low-cost, solid-fuel rocket used to launch small satellites weighing up to 300 kg (661 lb). It was developed by ExPace, a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC).
China launched two Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) rockets with a total of seven satellites aboard within six hours of each other from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday.
The first rocket placed the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B remote sensing satellite into orbit. Plans call for an initial constellation of 60 Jilin satellites in order, with the number growing to 138 by 2030.
The second launch carried six satellites:
HEAD-2A and HEAD-2B — The first two satellites in the Skywalker Constellation, which is designed to provide environmental monitoring, emergency communications, and material supervision for ships and aircraft. The satellites belong to the HEAD Aerospace Technology Co. of Beijing.
Spacety-16 and Spacety-17 — The medium-resolution remote sensing satellites will provide agricultural, disaster, maritime and polar equipment monitoring services. They were developed by the Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. for Spacety Co.
Tianqi-4A and Tianqi-4B — The Internet of Things satellites will provide data transmission, emergency communications and material tracking. The spacecraft are operated by Guodian Gaoke.
Launches of the solid-fuel KZ-1A booster are managed by Expace, which is a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation. The rocket is used to launch small satellites.
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.
China’s Kuaizhou-1A light launcher orbited two small satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday in a successful commercial mission.
The solid-fuel booster launched DFH Satellite Company’s KX-09 microgravity experimental satellite and SpaceTY’s Xiaoxiang 1-07 CubeSat.
The Kuaizhou-1A booster is manufactured and launches are managed by Expace, which is a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).
CASIS said it is planning to launch Kuaizhou-1A eight or nine more times before the end of the year. This was the booster’s first launch of 2019.
It was the fifth successful flight in five attempts for the solid-fuel Kuaizhou family of boosters, and the third success for the upgraded Kuaizhou-1A variant. The booster can place payloads weighing up to 200 kg (441 lbs) in 700 km (435 mile) high sun synchronous orbits.
I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.
I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….
So, have at it! Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!
China conducted its first launch of 2018 on Tuesday when a Long March 2D booster lofted a pair of SuperView imaging satellites into polar orbit for Beijing Space View Technology. The rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
“Success! We’re thrilled to announce the successful launch of SuperView-1 03&04 satellites at 11:26 this morning in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center!” the company tweeted.
The launch doubled the number of high-resolution SuperView satellites the company has on orbit. It plans to sell imagery on the global market.
GBTimesreports China could launch more than 40 times in 2018, which would be a substantial increase over the 18 launches the nation conducted last year.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced at a conference on January 2 that its 2018 work model includes 35 launches, underlining the return to flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission and launches of Beidou navigation satellites as the major activities.
In addition CASIC, a defence contractor, missile maker and sister company of CASC, will carry out a number of missions through its subsidiary EXPACE, including launching four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week and the maiden flight of the larger Kuaizhou-11.
Landspace Technology, a Beijing-based private aerospace company, is also expected to debut its LandSpace-1 solid propellant rocket this year.
SpaceX had a banner year in 2017, launching a record 18 times and helping to propel the United States to the top of the global launch table with a perfect 29-0 record. The U.S. total made up 32.2 percent of 90 orbital launches worldwide, which was an increase over the 85 flights conducted in 2016.
The 29 American launches were a leap of seven over the 22 flights conducted the previous year. This is the highest number of American orbital launches since the 31 flights undertaken in 1999. However, that year the nation’s launch providers suffered four failures whereas they were perfect in 2017.
China introduced a new commercial rocket this week aimed at the small satellite market with the successful launch of three satellites.
The solid fuel Kuaizhou 1A rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday. It carried the JL-1 commercial Earth observation satellite and two experimental CubeSats named Canton-1 and XS-Y1, according to the official Xinhau news agency.
It was the third flight for the Kuaizhou booster, but the first commercial launch under Expace, which is a commercial subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.
Kuaizhou 1A is capable of lifting up to 200 ( 441 lb) into sun synchronous orbit and 300 kg (661 lb) into low Earth orbit. Expace is targeting the booster at the booming small satellite market.