SpaceX dominating worldwide spacecraft launches by tremendous margin, statistics show

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525 of the 626 spacecraft that were placed into orbit by humans were launched by SpaceX rockets in the first quarter of this year, vastly outpacing the next-best organizations, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (27 spacecraft) and Russia’s Roscosmos (24 spacecraft).

Similarly, SpaceX launched spacecraft in the first quarter, from January 1 to March 31, that weighed around 429,125 kg. That was far smaller than Roscosmos’s 23,782 kg and CASC’s 29,426 kg.

The conclusions are actually not so shocking, isn’t that right? SpaceX is in the lead. China is ranked second. There are a ton of others that come after that, according to space industry expert Phil Smith of BryceTech.

The first-quarter numbers were put together by BryceTech, an analytics company located in Alexandria, Virginia, which supplies the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation with launch industry data.

As of Thursday, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station has conducted 45 orbital launches from Florida. This would easily beat last year’s record-breaking 72 rocket launches per year.

Out of the 45 launches, SpaceX is responsible for 43 of them. The final Delta IV Heavy rocket was launched on April 9th as part of the NROL-70 mission, whereas the first Vulcan rocket was launched on January 8th as part of United Launch Alliance’s certification mission.

“SpaceX has truly astounding capabilities. A firm being able to launch ten times in a year was considered amazing not so long ago, Smith recalled.

Why are there so many launches? “SpaceX’s Starlink deployment is proceeding as planned,” Smith stated. Sierra Leone is now home to Starlink’s rapidly expanding high-speed internet network—the 100th nation, territory, or other market they have serviced globally—according to a tweet sent by the company last week.

As of Thursday, June 13, astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reports that 6,079 Starlink satellites were operational in low-Earth orbit.

About half of them have been put to use. There are 12,000 satellites in the authorized constellation. And after that, 40,000 is the long-term goal. Thus, there is still work to be done in that area, Smith remarked.

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‘Smallsat’ statistical breakdown

Last year, rockets around the world launched 2,860 “smallsats” weighing 1,200 kilograms or lighter, BryceTech reported. A peek behind the numbers:

  • Communications satellites comprised 79% of that total, with remote sensing (13%), technology development (7%) and scientific (1%) applications accounting for nearly all the rest.
  • SpaceX and OneWeb accounted for 2,116 of those smallsats, while all other companies and entities accounted for the other 744.
  • Smallsats comprised 97% of all spacecraft launched during 2023.

Regarding the 2,860-smallsat total, Smith predicted that this year will see an increase over that figure.

“Final 9, yet another debut! Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, tweeted on June 7—just before a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station sent 22 additional Starlink internet-beaming satellites into low-Earth orbit. “Just Falcon is on track to break the record for the most mass that Earth sends into orbit in a single year.”

Massive SpaceX Starship to launch in future

SpaceX is proposing to launch its Starship-Super Heavy two-stage mega rocket from KSC shortly, upping the ante. Additionally, by 2026, SpaceX executives expect to begin launching the big launch system from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Environmental impact statements for Starship are being prepared by the FAA, U.S. Air Force, NASA, Coast Guard, and other government agencies in concert. The fourth test flight of Starship, which is still being developed, took off from Boca Chica, Texas, on June 6.

“SpaceX is going through a transitional phase between Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Starship. And we assume that the Falcons won’t be leaving anytime soon,” Smith remarked.

“Because that vehicle is of great interest to customers.” It is very dependable. Additionally, the cost is reasonable. Therefore, I don’t think the Falcon 9 will be deployed until the Starship is heavily utilized. And it will take some time,” he remarked.

In the meanwhile, according to a vice president of Amazon, the corporation hopes to launch half of its 3,236-satellite Project Kuiper broadband satellite constellation by July 2026. This goal was stated last month during a lecture to the National Space Club Florida Committee.

The $120 million satellite processing facility that Amazon is building at KSC’s Launch and Landing site is currently hiring.

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