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.


Chinese Crew Lands Safely After 15 Days in Space

The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)
The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)

Three Chinese taikonauts returned safely to Earth today after completing what officials described as a completely successful 15-day mission to the Tiangong-1 space station.

The reentry capsule of Shenzhou-10 landed safely in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 8:07 a.m.. All three astronauts were in good physical condition.

Nie Haisheng, commander of the Shenzhou-10 crew and a second-time space traveler, was the first to emerge out of the module, followed by Wang Yaping, the only female astronaut of the mission, and Zhang Xiaoguang.


China Looks to Cooperate on ISS Work

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

China Open To Human Spaceflight Cooperation
Aviation Week

China’s human spaceflight program is developing a 13-ton cargo carrier to supply the space station it plans to orbit late this decade, but the program’s leader is ready to discuss using it for International Space Station logistics, as well.


Chinese to Select Female Taikonaut

A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight
A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

China’s first female astronaut expected to complete space journey by 2012

China’s first female astronaut, who is yet to be selected to join the country’s second fleet of taikonauts, is expected to complete her journey into space by 2012.


China Plans 15-16 Launches in 09, Ramps Up Shenzhou Production

The Xinhua news agency has an update on the rapidly growing Chinese space program:

China plans to launch 15 to 16 satellites this year, Zhang Jianqi, deputy chief commander of the manned space project, said here Monday.

“Though the global financial crisis is taking toll on world economy, it has no impact on China’s space programs,” Zhang, a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, told media.


China to Select New Taikonauts for Space Station

China to Select Five to Seven New Taikonauts for Space Station mission
Xinhua New Agency

China has started a new round of taikonauts selection, and five to seven will enter the finalist, said an officer of the country’s space program on Thursday morning.


A Suit That Never Goes Out of Style

We’ve gotten our first look at the EVA suit that a Chinese taikonaut will use to conduct that nation’s inaugural spacewalk in October. Rob Coppinger has some images taken off Chinese television on his Hyperbola blog.

Aviation Week and Space Daily report that it looks a lot like the Russian Orlan EVA suit. Which is not too surprising because China’s Shenzhou spacecraft looks a lot like the Soyuz. Chinese officials claim the suit is their own design.

“Although seemingly a contradiction, both could be true,” AvWeek’s Craig Covault reports. “The Shenzhou spacecraft itself, for example, uses the basic Russian Soyuz design, but is significantly larger and carries major system design differences. The same is likely true for the Chinese EVA suits, which are about 25 years newer in design than the Orlan and probably incorporate major improvements.”

China to Conduct First Spacewalk Later This Year

Chinese officials have confirmed plans to launch its third human space mission during the second half of 2008. The Shenzhou VII mission will feature the first spacewalk by Chinese taikonauts.

There are a couple of stories by the Xinhua news agency, including one about possible plans to broadcast the spacewalk on live television. Space.com also has a story here in which it discusses successful tests on the airlock and spacesuits for the upcoming flight.