The year 2022 was more than successful for the state space agencies and private space companies of various countries, it was a record year. In 2022, there were 178 successful launches (not including suborbital ones), which is a quarter more than in 2021, when there were 135 successful launches.
The first place in the number of launches is held by the USA – 84 successful launches (61 of them are SpaceX launch vehicles), second is China – 62 successful launches (last year China unexpectedly broke into first place), third is Russia with only 22 launches (one of which was actually a failure, but the Russians won’t admit it). In 4th and 5th place, the European Space Agency ESA and India have 4 successful launches each.
If we take the launch statistics by families of launch vehicles, then they are as follows:
- Falcon (USA) – 61;
- Long March (China) – 53;
- P-7 (Russia) – 19;
- Electron (New Zealand/USA) – 9;
- Atlas (USA) – 7.
So, the Russian Soyuz-2, which has been flying since 2006, is part of the R-7 family of launch vehicles, the legendary “Seven”, designed on the basis of the R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile by outstanding Ukrainian scientists Serhii Korolev and Valentyn Hlushko back in… 1953-57. The modern, finally digital Soyuz-2.1v (2014) is a deep modernization of the same “Seven”.
This year, South Korea joined the club of space states, which currently has only 11 countries, which on June 21, 2022 launched its first satellite on its own launch vehicle from its own spaceport. It is interesting that North Korea launched its first satellite 10 years ago, on December 12, 2012. Once upon a time, Ukraine was also a member of this space club.
Other significant space achievements of 2022 include:
- beginning of scientific work of the James Webb space observatory;
- completion of the construction of China’s Tiangong space station;
- launch of the Artemis 1 lunar mission.
The Russian-Ukrainian war significantly affected the space industry, especially the Russian one. Soyuz launches from the French Kourou spaceport were suspended. Several Soyuz launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome have been canceled, including 6 launches of OneWeb‘s surveillance. Astronaut Scott Kelly started his own crusade against Russia and returned their space medal. The launch of the Russian-European Martian mission ExoMars 2022 has been canceled, the cooperation between ESA and Roscosmos on the Luna-25, 26, 27 missions has been terminated. The German components of the Russian-German eROSITA telescope are disabled. Russia has stopped supplying rocket engines to the US and technical support for those engines that NASA already has. Shortage of Ukrainian An-124 aircraft has led to fear of delay some space missions. And so on.
As a result, Russia’s share in the space market fell to 12%. This is the lowest percentage in the history of Soviet/Russian cosmonautics. Events with Soyuz MS-22 and other troubles that Roscosmos regularly gets into, give hope that Russian cosmonautics is living its last years. And this is good.
As for other countries, as we said at the beginning, 2022 was very good for space exploration and conquest. We hope that 2023 will be no worse. Happy New Year to you, dear readers!