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.


ISRO Looks to Privatize PSLV Operations, Boost Launch Rate

PSLV rocket lifts off with India's Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)
PSLV rocket lifts off with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said the Indian space agency is looking to turn over operations of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to a private consortium under the supervision of its commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.

“This will be discussed with industry leaders at the Make In India week. Tentatively, we plan to implement it in 2020,” he said.

Over the next five years, ISRO is also looking to roughly double its annual launch rate to 12.

In addition to the PSLV, ISRO also flies the larger GSLV Mark II launch vehicle. The space agency also is developing a more powerful GSLV Mark III booster.