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“Zafar 1”
Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

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.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • June 22, 2021
Iran Suffers Third Straight Launch Failure

Iranian state television is reporting that the nation’s latest attempt to orbit a satellite has failed in the wake of two unsuccessful launches last year. The Simorgh (“Phoenix”) rocket wasn’t able to accelerate the Zafar 1 satellite to orbital velocity, according to media reports. The 113 kg Earth observation satellite was to have placed into an orbit 530 km high. Zafar had an Earth imaging camera aboard as well as […]

  • Parabolic Arc
  • February 9, 2020