2017 was a good year for the United States as the country registered the biggest number of launches: 29 in total. This is the first time in over a decade that the US leads in this field, followed by Russia with 20 launches and Chine with 19.
29 successful launches for the US
It is important to stress out that all 29 launches were successful and more than one-third of them flew from US soil in 2017. Russia and China both registered one failure each. Apart from the Long March 5 rocket failure in July, China also registered one partial failure with ChinaSat 9A in June. Russia’s only failure was in November, with the Soyuz 2.1b rocket. Two years ago, China and the US both has 22 launch attempts and since 2003 until last year, Russia led the world in orbital launches.
SpaceX made it happen
The successful 29 launches from the US were mostly achieved by SpaceX, company which completed 18 missions with the Falcon 9 rocket. This company was followed by United Launch Alliance with eight flights and six Atlas V missions, as well as two Delta launches.
What about this year?
In 2018 there will be a competition between the US and China. Russia is expected to register low numbers due to SpaceX’s rise.
According to SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, the company will improve its flight-rate by 50% compared to last year. This means 25 to 30 missions.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is aiming for 35 launches this year and the country is hopeful they will not register any failure. Apart from the 35 panned launches, private contractors could also plan additional launches making it a total of 40 launches in 2018. So far China has only made 22 attempted launches in one year.