Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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South Korea Launches First Domestically Produced Rocket

Nuri rocket lifts off from the Naro Space Center on June 21, 2022. (Credit: KARI)

South Korea successfully launched a fully domestically produced Nuri rocket for the first time on Tuesday, orbiting multiple satellites in a major breakthrough for the Asian nation’s space program.

The three-stage rocket lifted off at 4 p.m. local time carrying a 1.3 metric ton dummy satellite, a smaller 162.5 kg satellite whose purpose was to verify Nuri’s performance, and four research CubeSats developed by universities. The verification satellite confirmed it had entered orbit when it made contact with a communications station in Antarctica.

“The sky of the Korean universe is now wide open. Our science and technology has made great strides,” said Lee Jong-ho, minister of Science and Information Communications Technology (ICT).

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which is South Korea’s space agency, designed the domestically produced rocket to place 1.5 metric tons into low Earth orbit.

Nuri failed during its maiden flight last October due to the premature shut down of its third-stage engine. An investigation found that a helium tank broke loose due to a design flaw, causing a leak that shut down the engine.

It was the second successful satellite launch from South Korea. In 2013, a Naro-1 rocket launched a small satellite after two earlier failures. Naro-1 used a Russian first stage and a South Korean second stage.

South Korean Satellite Launch Fails as Third Stage Falters

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The maiden flight of South Korea’s first domestically produced satellite launch vehicle failed on Thursday due to the premature shutdown of the rocket’s third stage, the nation’s space agency said.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the Nuri’s rocket’s first and second stages performed nominally after liftoff from the Naro Space Center at 5 p.m. local time. The failure of the booster’s third stage meant it was unable to place a dummy payload into low Earth orbit. Engineers are analyzing data from the flight to determine what caused the premature shutdown.

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South Korea to Boost Military and Civil Space Spending, Transfer Satellite and Launch Vehicle Technology to Private Sector

Test model of the Nuri (KSLV-II) booster. (Credit: Ministry of Science and ICT)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

South Korea plans to invest more than $14.25 billion over the next decade to improve its military and civil space capabilities. The Republic of Korea will transfer satellite and launch vehicle technology to the private sector to boost the nation’s domestic capabilities and improve its international competitiveness. The nation is also deepening defense and civil space cooperation with the United States.

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