Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.

Launches by Booster

In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Russia’s venerable Soyuz booster continued to lead the world in launches in 2016, with 13 successes in 14 attempts. Soyuz was followed by Falcon 9 and Atlas V with eight successful launches each and Ariane 5 with seven launches. The ninth Falcon 9 blew up on the launch pad prior to a pre-flight test.

LAUNCH VEHICLE
NATION
SUCCESSES
LAUNCH FAILURES
LAUNCH PAD FAILURES
PARTIAL FAILURESTOTAL
SoyuzRussia1310014
Falcon 9USA80109
Atlas VUSA80008
Ariane 5Europe70007
PSLVIndia60006
Long March 2DChina50016
Delta IVUSA40004
Long March 3BChina30003
ProtonRussia30003
Long March 3CChina20002
H-IIAJapan20002
Long March 2FChina20002
Long March 4BChina20002
Long March 4CChina11002
RockotRussia20002
VegaEurope20002
AntaresUSA10001
EpsilonJapan10001
GSLVIndia10001
H-IIBJapan10001
Long March 3AChina10001
Long March 5China10001
Long March 7China10001
Long March 11China10001
Pegasus XLUSA10001
Shavit-2Israel10001
UnhaeNorth Korea10001
TOTAL:8221186

Launches By Spaceport

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station led all spaceports with 18 launches, a figure that does not include SpaceX’s Falcon 9 pre-flight launch pad failure. The Cape was followed by Baikonur and Kourou with 11 launches each. China’s Jiuquan and Xicheng spaceports followed with 9 and 8 launches, respectively.

SPACEPORTNATION
LAUNCH VEHICLES
LAUNCHES
Cape Canaveral Air Force StationUSAAtlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9, Pegasus XL18
BaikonurRussiaProton, Soyuz11
KourouEuropeAriane 5, Soyuz, Vega11
JiuquanChinaLong March 2D, Long March 2F, Long March 4B, Long March 119
XichangChinaLong March 3A, Long March 3B, Long March 3C8
Satish DhawanIndiaGSLV, PSLV7
PlesetskRussiaRockot, Soyuz5
TaiyuanChina
Long March 2D, Long March 4B, Long March 4C4
TanegashimaJapanH-IIA, H-IIB3
VandenbergUSAAtlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 93
WenchangChinaLong March 5, Long March 72
PalmachimIsraelShavit-21
SohaeNorth KoreaUnha1
UchinouraJapanEpsilon1
VostochnyRussiaSoyuz1
Wallops IslandUSAAntares1
TOTAL:85

Wallops Island was back in the orbital launch business after a two-year stand down caused by the loss of an Antares booster in October 2014.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome and China’s Wenchang spaceport hosted their inaugural launches in 2016.

Human Spaceflight

At the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA (left) and Sergey Ryzhikov (center) and Andrey Borisenko (right) of Roscosmos pose for pictures Sept. 9 in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko will launch Sept. 24, Kazakh time on the Soyuz MS-02 vehicle for a five-month mission on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)
At the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA (left) and Sergey Ryzhikov (center) and Andrey Borisenko (right) of Roscosmos pose for pictures Sept. 9 in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check. (Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

A total of fourteen launches were conducted to support ISS and the Chinese Tiangong-2 space station.

Russia continued to provide the only human transportation to and from ISS. The nation launched four Soyuz crew missions to the orbiting laboratory.

DATELAUNCH VEHICLE
NATION
MISSIONMISSION TYPE
LAUNCH SITE
RESULT
03/18/16SoyuzRussiaISS 46SISS CrewBaikonurSuccess
03/22/16Atlas VUSAOA-6ISS ResupplyCCAFSSuccess
03/31/16SoyuzRussiaProgress 63PISS ResupplyBaikonurSuccess
04/08/16Falcon 9USACRS-8ISS ResupplyCCAFSSuccess
07/07/16SoyuzRussiaISS-47SISS CrewBaikonurSuccess
07/16/16SoyuzRussiaProgress 64PISS ResupplyBaikonurSuccess
07/18/16Falcon 9USACRS-9ISS ResupplyCCAFSSuccess
09/15/16Long March 2FChinaTiangong-2Space StationJiuquanSuccess
10/16/16Long March 2FChinaShenzhou-11Tiangong-2 CrewJiuquanSuccess
10/17/16AntaresUSAOA-5ISS ResupplyWallopsSuccess
10/19/16SoyuzRussiaISS 48SISS CrewBaikonurSuccess
11/17/16SoyuzRussiaISS 49PISS CrewBaikonurSuccess
12/01/16SoyuzRussiaProgress 65PISS ResupplyBaikonurFailure
12/09/16H-IIBJapanHTV-6ISS ResupplyTanegashimaSuccess

ISS was also visited by seven resupply ships, including two Russian Progress, two SpaceX Dragon, two Orbital ATK Cygnus, and one Japanese HTV. A third Progress launch failed in December.

The Chinese conducted the launch of the Tiangong 2 space station in September and sent astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong there aboard Shenzhou-11 in October for a 30-day stay. Their 33-day spaceflight was the longest in Chinese history. An automated supply ship will be launched to the station in 2017.

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  • Paul Thomas

    Russia historically had a much higher launch rate. I think this is it’s lowest ever.