Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

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The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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Smith, Babin Examine Policy Governing Indian Launch Vehicles

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information.

Yesterday’s letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy. The letters can be found here.

PSLV-C35 Successfully Launches Eight Satellites into Two Different Orbits

PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)
PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — In its thirty seventh flight (PSLV-C35), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 Satellite along with seven co-passenger satellites today morning (September 26, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty sixth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the eight satellites carried on-board PSLV-C35 was 675 kg. PSLV-C35 is the first PSLV mission to launch satellites carried onboard into two different orbits. This PSLV mission was the longest of the PSLV missions conducted till date and was completed in 2 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off.

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Spaceflight Industries Successfully Launches BlackSky Pathfinder Satellite

PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)
PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2016 (Spaceflight Industries PR) – Spaceflight Industries, a next-generation space company enabling access to space and redefining global intelligence, announced the successful launch of its BlackSky Pathfinder-1 satellite into a sun synchronous orbit from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). From Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, liftoff occurred on Sunday Sept. 25 at 11:42 p.m. EDT with the satellite separating from the rocket’s upper stage at 1:57 a.m. EDT Monday.

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House Science Committee Wants Answers on Indian Launch Vehicle Policy

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON –  Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent letters to four senior officials requesting information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

Today’s letters, which were sent to Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, follows India’s recent membership into the Missile Technology Control Regime and conflicting reports as to the legal authority for promulgating the policy and administrative processes for implementing the policy.

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PSLV Upper Stage Engines Successfully Restarted in Space

pslvlunar
BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) accomplished its 35th consecutive successful flight with the launch of 20 satellites in a single mission recently on June 22, 2016. Another landmark achievement of this mission was the successful restart of its upper stage liquid engines (PS4). This has demonstrated and validated the upper stage systems for the upcoming PSLV missions to enable injection of satellites into multiple orbits.

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Spaceflight Launches Planet Dove Satellites on Indian Rocket

spaceflight_logoSEATTLE, June 21, 2016 (Spaceflight PR) Spaceflight, the leading provider of integrated launch services for small satellites, today announced it has successfully launched a flock of 12 Planet Dove satellites from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The 12 spacecraft are shoebox-sized satellites that will be delivered into lower Earth orbit to provide imaging data.

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COMSTAC Recommends Against Lifting Ban on Commercial ICBM Use

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)
A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (Credit: NASA/Chris Perry)

The FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) voted last week to recommend that the U.S. government maintain its ban on the use of excess ICBM motors for launching commercial satellites. The recommendation to the FAA is a non-binding one.

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FAA Backs Ban on U.S. Satellite Launches on Indian Rockets

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

Space News reports on disagreements within the U.S. government about whether to allow American companies to launch satellites aboard Indian rockets.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) endorsed an advisory committee’s recommendation that commercial U.S. satellites continue to be barred from using the PSLV.

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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.

 

Russia Led in Launch Successes and Failures in 2015

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

Russia continued its dominance of the global satellite launch industry in 2015, conducting 29 of 86 orbital launches over the past 12 months. It also maintained its lead in botched launches, suffering two failures and one partial failure.

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PlanetiQ to Launch on India’s PSLV Rocket

Credit: PlanetiQ
Credit: PlanetiQ

BOULDER, Colo., Dec. 3, 2015 (PlanetiQ PR) — PlanetiQ has signed a contract with Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), for the launch of PlanetiQ’s first two weather satellites on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during the fourth quarter of 2016. Ten more satellites are planned for launch in 2017 to complete an initial set of 12 satellites that will dramatically improve global weather forecasting, climate monitoring and space weather prediction, and enable advanced analytics for numerous industries worldwide.

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Four Spire Weather Satellites Launched into Orbit

spire_logo2Spire has successfully deployed four CubeSats as the foundation of what it bills as the “world’s first commercial weather satellite network.”

The spacecraft — named LEMUR2-PETER, LEMUR2-JOEL, LEMUR2-JEROEN, and LEMUR2-CHRIS — were deployed as secondary payloads aboard an Indian PSLV rocket on Monday. The primary payload was ASTROSAT, which is India’s first multi-wavelength space observatory.

“Spire’s operations team, at the heart of our mission control, is already hard at work,” the company announced on its website. “At 24-minutes post launch, our first satellite was deployed from the rocket, followed in quick succession by the remaining three satellites. Our team will spend the next hours and days identifying our satellites (non-trivial when you are released amongst a group of satellites), running core system checks, and preparing to deliver meaningful customer data.

“Also important at this stage will be our global ground station network. We deploy ground stations to far flung locations around the world so that we can be prepared for just this occasion, able to pick up and communicate with our network of satellites in a near continuous fashion. Our network continues to evolve and our team, which operates 24-hours per day/ 6-days per week out of our three global offices, is ready for this launch and the onslaught of launches coming just on the heels of today’s success,” the company said.

Canadian Researchers Demonstrate First CubeSat Formation Flying

CanX-4 and CanX-5 (Cedit: UTIAS SFL)
CanX-4 and CanX-5 (Cedit: UTIAS SFL)

University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Laboratory (UTIAS SFL)
Press Release

In only four months following launch, the CanX-4 and CanX-5 dual satellite formation flying mission has been accomplished ahead of schedule.

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