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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Virgin Orbit, ISI Partner to Develop Responsive Space Service

LauncherOne attached to Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

TEL AVIV, January 28, 2020 (Virgin Orbit PR) Virgin Orbit, the California-based small satellite launch company, has signed an agreement with ImageSat International (ISI), a global leader in space-based intelligence solutions, to develop an end-to-end responsive space service offering focused on national security customers. The joint turnkey service, announced at the 15th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference during Israel Space Week, would take advantage of the responsive and flexible capabilities of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system to rapidly deploy ISI’s high-resolution Earth observation small satellites.

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Kleos Signs MoU with ImageSat International, a Global Leader in Geospatial Intelligence

LUXEMBOURG, 2 April 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, has signed a collaborative, non-binding, Memorandum of Understanding with leading Israeli based end-to-end geospatial intelligence company ImageSat International N.V. (iSi) to explore opportunities to use Kleos’ maritime RF activity-based satellite data to enhance geospatial intelligence analytics.

Under the MoU, the companies will develop a value-add proposition for current and future iSi maritime customers using Kleos’ geolocation data. The MoU also covers the development of a methodology to reduce collection to dissemination latency.

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