SpaceX Ruled Roost in 2017, Boosting U.S. to No. 1 in Global Launches

Falcon 9 carries the Dragon cargo ship into orbit. (Credit: NASA TV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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The Year in Suborbital Launches

The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)
The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Although orbital launch vehicles get all the glory (and infamy when they fail), 2016 was also a busy year for the far less glamorous suborbital launch sector. There were 19 suborbital launches at various sites around the world, and two more sounding rocket launches of note where the payload didn’t go above 100 km.
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Review Suggests Upgrading Esrange for Smallsat Launches

Swedish Space CorporationSOLNA, Sweden (Swedish Space Corporation PR) — On Monday, 17 October, the results of a Swedish Governmental Offices analysis regarding development of the potential capacity at Esrange towards launching of small satellites was briefed to the Space Minister of Sweden.

Mr Jan Nygren, who is responsible for the analysis, recommended the Government to further work on realization of the opportunities. He commented the report by saying that Esrange current capability provide good basic prerequisites that could be further developed in a cost effective way to establish a facility for launching small satellites.

Mr Jan Nygren is a former Minister of Coordination and secretary of state within the Swedish Government and former Vice President of SAAB AB. The coming weekend, Mr Nygren and the Space Minister of Sweden Helen-Hellmark Knutsson will participate at Executive Roundtable held in Kiruna within the celebration of the Esrange 50 year anniversary.

– At SSC we are happy that the Swedish government are working on the opportunities for Esrange and that the results so far seem to be positive, says Stefan Gustafsson, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Sustainable Business.

Kiruna Spaceport Advances; Update Planned for April 1

Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic officials will provide an update on their efforts at creating a spaceport in Kiruna, Sweden on April 1. Below is the official announcement.

SWEDISH SPACE CORPORATION PRESS RELEASE

Many steps towards personal suborbital spaceflight from Kiruna have been taken. To be precise 26 work packages, regarding everything from accommodation to space operations and astronauts’ timetables, have successfully been accomplished during the last 14 months. The Spaceport Sweden team will present the conclusions of the work packages so far and also the way forward.

Virgin Galactic has also been intensely involved in the above mentioned work packages, and has simultaneously focused on several other current topics. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic will be providing latest information on the recently unveiled designs of the prototype commercial space ship and carrier aircraft which are now close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave California. He will also be sharing the vision for Virgin Galactic including the likely diversification of the business into the areas of space science and payload deployment as well as continuing work towards flights from Spaceport Sweden.

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