Space race 2.0: winners and losers (in memory of Rogozin)
To remember Dmitry Rogozin, the “talented” head of the
Soviet Russian space industry, who is famous for screwing up tweeting a lot, let’s see who is really dominating space now. And the infographic from the site Visual Capitalist will help us in this.
Since the beginning of the space age, humanity has sent about 11,000 man-made objects into near-space, that is, into various orbits around the Earth. It so happened that during the Cold War, more satellites were launched by the USSR and they were mainly of military purpose. As a result of this not very reliable and very limited in terms of functionality scrap metal, the USSR dominated both in terms of the number of space launches and the number of objects (albeit dead ones) in near-Earth space not only throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but also by inertia in the 1990s those and even 2000-2010.
The situation changed in 2014. Firstly, Elon Musk’s reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 began regular flights, and secondly, it was then that Russia became toxic, so the number of customers for Russian rockets fell, and the generous sanctions began their slow but destructive effect on Russian space. In 2018, the “talented manager” and trampolinist Dmitry Rogozin joined the destruction of the Russian space industry. The number of launches of Russian rockets began to drop rapidly, while the Falcon 9 launched dozens of small satellites into orbit in one launch.
As of the end of 2021, there are 4,852 operational satellites in Earth orbit, 2,944 of which, i.e. more than 60%, belong to the United States. Of the nearly 3,000 American satellites: 2,516 are commercial devices of various companies, 230 have a military purpose, 168 belong to the government, and another 30 belong to various public organizations.
If you count all the objects launched into space since 1957, then starting from 2019, the first place is occupied by the USA – 5,534 satellites, the second – the USSR/Russia – 3,611 objects. The third is China. Given China’s plans to deploy an array of 13,000 navigation and communications satellites by 2026, they will push Russia even lower very soon.
As for space debris, according to NASA report there are about 27,000 pieces tracked by the US Department of Defense’s Space Surveillance Network (SSN). It is clear that the Russians littered more than others in the near space, both with non-working old satellites and tests of space weapons.
If for some reason you think that Russia can still fight back (no), then just look at statistics of space launches of the first half of 2022: USA – 45 launches (43 successful); China – 23 launches (22 successful); Russia – 10 launches (conditionally 10 successful, although in reality only 9). SpaceX alone has conducted 30 launches (all 30 successful), three times more than the “great space power”.
Moreover, Russia recently announced the withdrawal of almost the entire scientific space program, Russian space, or rather what is left of it, will serve only the military. Well, about this… Russia’s attempts to indirectly buy space images of the territory of Ukraine from Western companies indicate that the Russians are also doing very badly with surveillance satellites.
We do not know who will win the space race 2.0 – the USA or China, but we know for sure who has already lost – Russia. And if you think that with the resignation of Dmitry Rogozin, things will go better at Roscosmos… then we draw your attention to the fact that his successor, Yuri Borisov, in 2012-2018 held the position of Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, and since 2018 replaced Rogozin in the case of embezzlement of the military industry of Russia. That is, all those “no analogues” Russian wunderwaffles that got lost on the way to the war are his merit.
Only decline and destruction awaits Russian Federation. We hope, like the entire Russian Federation.