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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Rocket Lab to Launch Most Diverse Mission Yet

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)
  • The mission will deploy 30 satellites to unique orbits using the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage space tug
  • The satellites will enable internet from space, test new methods of deorbiting space debris, and enable research into predicting earthquakes
  • The launch will also feature a 3D printed mass simulator for Valve’s Gabe Newell to raise funds for Starship Children’s Hospital

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 2, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Leading space systems company, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission will feature a diverse range of payloads from the United States, France and New Zealand.

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