China completes its seventh launch in 2018

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China today successfully launched two GPS satellites, completed its seventh launch in 2018.

The 2018 launch standings:

7 China
3 SpaceX
2 Japan

As a nation, the U.S. has 6 launches. For the rest of February, SpaceX is prepping two launches, while Russia and Japan plan one each.



  • Craig

    5 US launches! Electron’s launch belongs New Zealand, even if majority stakeholders are Americans,
    because the rocket was launched from New Zealand and because it was designed and built by New Zealand people.

  • 1201AlarmSameType: Actually Garver was always against SLS. She was part of the Obama administration when he canceled Constellation, and was clearly then opposed to its replacement, SLS, imposed by Congress. The problem was that the executive branch does not have a choice when the legislative branch dictates terms, which is what Congress did here. They wanted SLS built, and as such Obama, NASA, and Garver had to go along.

  • 1201AlarmSameType

    I stand corrected. Certainly her most vocal feedback though.

  • wodun

    Obama, like most administrations, didn’t care enough about space to put in any effort to wrangle congress. That is why it is promising that control over all the infrastructure and technologies is slipping from NASA’s fingers and being used by people who have diverse interests in space based activities.

    SpaceX has a huge backlog of launches. It will be exciting to see the year end totals.

  • Localfluff

    I tried to estimate how much mass has actually been launched to space this year. Using data for each satellite is too much work so as a proxy I go by max capacity of the launcher to the orbit it is launching according to Wiki. For example I treat Falcon Heavy as going to Mars orbit (not quite true, but there’s a public figure to use). This means 16.8 tons, less than Falcon 9’s 22.8 tons to LEO. In the long run these figures should get statistically comparable for how much mass the launch providers actually have put in space relative to each other, regardless of in which orbit.

    Tons to any orbit and per each launch

    50 SpaceX 22.8 8.3 16.8
    20 China 1.3 5.1 3.5 .3 3.8 1.3 5.1
    16 ULA 10.2 6
    11 Russia 4.2 7
    6.5 ESA 6.5
    1.7 India 1.7
    .8 Japan .6 .2
    .2 NZ .2

  • Localfluff

    I should use a figure for Falcon 9s reusable launch capacity, these are for expendable launches. And other distortions, this is not a crystal clear thing to put a figure on. The question of fuel in the spacecraft being part of the payload or a substitute for a bigger upper stage is another matter. Maybe there is someone who tracks how much actual human launched mass is in space at each time?

  • LocalFluff: Most illuminating! Thank you. If you can keep this maintained, I shall certainly cite it repeatedly during the year.

  • Localfluff

    I need to systematize it somehow in that case. Covering it launch by launch is easier though.

  • Localfluff: If you can keep this up-to-date you will provide some very valuable information about the real state of the launch industry.

  • Edward

    Your estimate on the Roadster is probably a bit high. A Roadster is about 1.3 tonned (metric) and there may be another tonne of support structure and equipment.

    Mass to orbit may be a generally more useful figure than number of launches per year, so this is a good endeavor to take on.

    However, whenever my friends or family ask, they ask about number of launches. Before Robert’s tabulation, last year, I would answer that it was fewer than 100 per year, but somewhere in that vicinity. Now I can give them a better feel for how each decade fared. It is interesting to see those trends.

    I expect that within two decades someone will be salvaging dead satellites for their materials for use in space. That person will be very interested in how much mass is up there.

  • Localfluff

    The public interest in how much mass is “hanging” up there is all about how thick tin foil hat one has to wear in order to be guaranteed safe. Not really, it’s just a nerd figure.

    But you might still wanna wear your Musk-SpaFi-hat as antenna on your head where ever you go, since that will provide you with free internet connection always everywhere when he has launched his thousand satellite constellation dozens at a time with his huge FH-rocket. You will never be out of touch with the mainstream nonsense as long as you wear your must-have Musk-hat. It will also be charged by reflexed power beams so that you don’t need to plug anything anywhere anytime. Consider using surgery to put it inside of your cranium. Free DIY-instructions on the tube are recommended!

  • Localfluff

    100,000 years ago humans stood up on their legs. Not only to impress our dogs, but to today connect with the beginnings of our “alien” space mega constellation structure that will send fake news, prn, marscoin exchange rates and other important messages to everyone all the time. (Maybe it will drive mammals to the underground again?)

  • wayne

    Rick and Morty on slavery with extra steps

  • Andrew_W

    I like the idea of taking into account the mass rather than just the number of launches, but to keep things simple the capacity to LEO of the rockets might be even better and more relevant than actual mass – and a heck of a lot simpler.

  • Localfluff

    Yeah, but even that number “depends”. LEO is anything from 150 km to 1500 km and with different eccentricities and inclinations.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to use the mass of the most massive (publicly documented) payload that has ever been launched to any orbit by the specific launcher? That should be a real hard figure. But it would still discriminate against the heaviest launchers. Falcon Heavy might never launch anything to LEO, but only to GEO and beyond. And the figure would have to be revised historically as a new record is set by a particular launcher. And how should for example all the different Atlas V and Soyuz configurations be treated?

    I suppose that the kinetic impulse that the launcher develops during its launch is what matters, and that’s a truly physical one dimensional scalar figure. And it should be a given figure for each launch, regardless of launcher type, no generalizations needed. I’ll try to have a look at that approach.

  • Andrew_W

    Maybe just use this page and bugger the imprecision? Although there’s no LEO figure for Electron as its standard is a SSO rather than LEO.

  • LocalFluff: I think you should base this launch stat on the capacity of the launcher, not on what actually launches. The latter has so many variables, including the orbit itself. The former clearly tells us what the company, launcher, or country is capable of.

    It will also be easier, as once you establish a number, you merely have to reuse it. You could establish a standard based on the payload all orbital rockets can lift to low-Earth-orbit, just to be consistent.

  • Edward

    I was hoping to see numbers that were closer to actual mass taken to orbit; this is the most interesting number. This could be the reported mass of a payload or it could be estimated by the maximum capability to that orbit by the rocket used. The maximum capacity estimate would be high, but probably not by much.

    Your original comment suggested that you were looking more for the actual mass launched rather than the maximum that could have been launched if it had gone to low Earth orbit: “I tried to estimate how much mass has actually been launched to space this year.

    That is just my two-cents. It is your project.

  • Edward and LocalFluff: Either works for me. I think that some rough listing of payload mass would be very enlightening.

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