Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

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)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Unlucky 13: Rocket Lab Electron Launch Fails

Electron’s second stage fires. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s 13th launch of its Electron booster was unlucky today, with a failure of the second stage sending seven small satellites to burn up in the atmosphere instead of entering orbit after launch from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

“An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the company tweeted.

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Kleos Space to Launch Development Technology in Early July

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 26 June 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX : KSS, Francfort : KS1), the Luxembourg RF Earth Observation Company, is launching new data collecting technology (software defined radio payload) integrated in an In-Space Missions (In-Space) Faraday-1 spacecraft to be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from New Zealand by Rocket Lab in a weeks’ time as part of the Company’s R&D programme.

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Next Electron Launch Set for July 3

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 15 June 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) –Satellite manufacturer and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission is scheduled to launch just three weeks after its most recent mission in a demonstration of the company’s rapid launch capability.

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