Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.
A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.
The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.
Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.
The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.
It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.
A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Axiom Space astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy have safely returned to Earth, marking the end of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) – the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of four and more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware, undocked from the space station at 9:10 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 24. About 16 hours later, the vehicle splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — At the conclusion of a weather briefing ahead of today’s planned undocking, NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams elected to wave off today’s undocking attempt due to a diurnal low wind trough which has been causing marginally high winds at the splashdown sites. The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew is now targeting to undock from the International Space Station 8:55 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 24.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.
Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of the undocking and departure of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) prior to its return to Earth from the International Space Station.
The four-member private astronaut crew is scheduled to undock at 10:35 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, to begin the journey home with splashdown off the coast of Florida no earlier than 7:19 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 20. Teams will monitor weather at the splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the Dragon spacecraft and Ax-1 astronauts. If needed for any reason, there are additional opportunities for the crew’s departure from the space station on Tuesday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 20.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., April 11, 2022 (CASIS PR) – On Friday, April 8, the launch of the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), marked the beginning of a new era of privatized utilization of the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying four Axiom Space astronauts: Commander and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the ISS on Saturday, and the four Axiom crew members were welcomed onboard. Over the span of eight days on the space station, the Ax-1 crew members will conduct dozens of research experiments, many of which are sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory. In total, the ISS National Lab is sponsoring more than 25 experiments associated with the Ax-1 mission.
HOUSTON, April 8, 2022 (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space, a leader in human spaceflight, now building the first commercial space station, announced today the debut of its NFT marketplace ahead of its historic Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station. During the mission, Axiom will initiate the minting of several NFTs from space. Starting today, space fans of all kinds can purchase the first NFT and receive updates ahead of the upcoming drops.
HOUSTON (Axiom Space PR) — The historic Ax-1 crew has arrived at the International Space Station. Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe, and Mission Specialist Mark Pathy entered the space station shortly after the hatch opened at 10:13 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 9.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Axiom Space PR) — Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the world’s first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), launched Friday. The four-person multi-national crew of Ax-1 is now in orbit following an 11:17 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station has spent more than two decades in low-Earth orbit serving as Earth’s orbiting laboratory. Groundbreaking research aboard the station in its unique microgravity environment has led to benefits back on the ground and paved the way for future deep space missions.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The seven-member Expedition 67 crew will wait an extra day to greet the first private astronauts who are due to launch this weekend to the International Space Station. In the meantime, the orbital residents focused on human research and physics today while gearing up for a pair of spacewalks later this month.