The world’s launch providers have been extremely busy in the first quarter of 2018, with 31 orbital launches thus far. This is more than one third of the 90 launches conducted last year.
China leads the pack with 10 successful launches. The United States is close behind with a total of nine launches with one failure. The tenth American launch is scheduled for Monday afternoon from Florida.
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.
An interesting interview with Bill Khourie, executive director of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority. OSIDA’s Burns Flat facility has been without a space tenant since Rocketplane moved out about a year ago. However, officials are pursuing some intriguing possibilities:
XCOR, which might base one of its Lynx vehicles there;
Armadillo, which has been developing a suborbital vehicle and has flown test flights at Burns Flat before;
A point-to-point corridor in collaboration with New Mexico’s Spaceport America, presumably involving Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.