For a more overall view (and under fair use) I added up the launches from 1998 through 2006 and then from 2007 through 2016. I chose a break of 2007 because that is when Lockheed Martin and Boeing formed their joint venture, United Launch Alliance. Here are the long-term trends:
I will modify their tally by adding another 15 launches by China as reported by GBTimes, China to attempt close to 30 space launches in 2017. Behind the Black explains that China is somewhat secretive about their space plans, so they don’t announce all their expected launches.
Parabolic Arc – USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016 – Supercool article describes the launch successes and failures in 2016, including a tally of launches by country and life vehicles. Recap of status of all the US players.
I pulled the tally of attempts and successes, including the launch pad failure of a Falcon 9 as an attempt, even though it didn’t get off the ground and thus is not actually an attempt:
Amazing news on the open frontier of private space exploration:
SpaceX recovers another two boosters at sea.
What to do with all those warehoused ICBM boosters?
Another investment in mining asteroids.
5/6 – NPR – SpaceX Lands Falcon 9 on a Barge at Sea (Again)– This is the second successful recovery of a Falcon 9 booster at sea. Another successful recovery was on land. After several failed efforts to recover on a floating barge, SpaceX has two successes in a row. Very cool.
4/14 – Behind the Black – The history of Falcon 9’s recoverable first stage – Check out this cool video showing the less-than-four-year history of going from the first tiny test by Grasshopper to successful recovery of the Falcon 9 booster at sea:
If you want to know why I remain so optimistic for our future even though the national political, geopolitical, and economic news is so depressing, check out the space news I’ve noticed in the last week. As Behind the Black often says, the competition is heating up.
One bit of not-so-great news. From Space.com: Video Shows SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Land on Droneship, Then Fall Over and Explode. The video is here. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 landed almost dead center on the drone floating 200 miles south of Vandenberg. The engine cut off which means it was landed successfully. Then one of the legs gave out, the rocket tipped over, then exploded. Preliminary guess is that something (a lockout collet?) iced over while on the launch pad.
1/14 – Behind the Black – Orbital ATK and SpaceX win Air Force contracts – ULA does not have engines for its rockets and thus must rely on Russian engines to get our military launches into space. Orbital ATK and SpaceX both have contracts to develop new engines.
The obvious story line here that gives me such encouragement is two new-on-the-scene, privately owned space companies have been called in to help the mega-contractor ULA get out of its mess.
Recently I’ve seen a number of fun articles on space exploration. Here are a few to share: successful resupply launch to ISS after several failures across the industry, competition between spaceplane and reusable boosters, and China developing a new manned capsule.
Orbital lost a supply run in October 2014, Russia lost one earlier in 2015, and SpaceX lost one in June 2015. Keep in mind that launching rockets into space is the difficult task that is behind the putdown of ‘it isn’t rocket science’.