77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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NASA Updates Astronaut Assignments for Boeing Starliner Test Flight

Boeing’s Starliner crew ship is seen moments after docking to the International Space Station’s forward port on the Harmony module. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

NASA will fly two astronaut test pilots aboard the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station, where they will live and work off the Earth for about two weeks.

CFT commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, whom NASA assigned to the prime crew in October 2020, will join NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will serve as pilot. Williams previously served as the backup test pilot for CFT while assigned as commander of NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, Starliner’s first post-certification mission. As CFT pilot, Williams takes the place of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, originally assigned to the mission in 2018. NASA reassigned Mann to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission in 2021.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Return to Earth

Boeing’s Starliner crew ship is seen moments after docking to the International Space Station’s forward port on the Harmony module. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). As part of the uncrewed flight test, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will depart from the International Space Station for a landing in the western United States.

The spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously undock from the space station to begin the journey home at 2:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25. NASA and Boeing are targeting 6:49 p.m. for the landing and conclusion of OFT-2, wrapping up a six-day mission testing the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.

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Station Crew Opens Boeing Starliner Hatch, Enters Spacecraft

NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren greet “Rosie the Rocketeer” inside the Boeing Starliner spacecraft shortly after opening its hatch. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts living aboard the International Space Station opened the hatch for the first time to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft at 12:04 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 21, on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2.

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Boeing’s Starliner Docks to Station for Cargo and Test Ops

Boeing’s Starliner crew ship is seen moments after docking to the International Space Station’s forward port on the Harmony module. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft successfully docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT. Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Starliner Proceeding Toward Space Station

Atlas V lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. (Credit: ULA)

Boeing Mission Update

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is proceeding toward the International Space Station on the NASA-Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).

Boeing and NASA met as an ISS Mission Management Team (IMMT) this afternoon to review the status of the flight test and approved a plan to proceed toward the final phase of rendezvous and docking, which remains scheduled at 7:10 p.m. EDT.

Docking broadcast coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on www.nasa.gov/live.

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United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches the Boeing CST-100 Starliner on Orbital Flight Test-2

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 6:54 p.m. EDT on May 19, 2022. (Image Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., (United Launch Alliance PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V carrying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, lifted off on May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To date ULA has launched 150 times with 100 percent mission success. This marks the 93rd successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, and the 104th launch from SLC-41. 

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United Launch Alliance Set to Launch the CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft on Orbital Flight Test-2

An Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-6 mission for the U.S Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 4:18 p.m. EDT on March 26, 2020. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (United Launch Alliance PR) — A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The launch is planned for Thurs. May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The live launch broadcast begins no earlier than 6 p.m. EDT on May 19 at www.ulalaunch.com.

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What You Need to Know about NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing are taking another major step on the path to regular human spaceflight to the International Space Station using American rockets to launch spacecraft from American soil with the second uncrewed test flight of a commercial crew spacecraft.

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Join the Virtual NASA Social to Experience Starliner’s Uncrewed Flight Test to Space Station

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in a global virtual NASA Social for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. This is the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 Briefings, Events, Broadcast

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

NASA Mission Update

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Scheduled to launch at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About 31 minutes after launch, the Starliner will reach its preliminary orbit. It is scheduled to dock to the space station at 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 Scheduled for May 19

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for prelaunch and launch activities for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station, the second uncrewed flight test of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Liftoff on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Starliner is targeted for Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Boeing to Move Up Service Modules for Commercial Crew Flight Tests

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Following extensive testing and analysis of oxidizer isolation valves on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner service module propulsion system, Boeing has decided to move up service modules currently in production for its upcoming uncrewed and crewed flight tests to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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NASA Orders 3 Additional Crew Dragon Flights From SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire up to three additional crew flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station.

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Boeing Starliner Update: Valves Continue to be a Problem, No Launch Date in Sight

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.

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