Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab tonight (July 29th in New Zealand) successfully launched its Electron rocket to place an American military technology test satellite into orbit.
This was the company’s first launch since a launch failure in May. Though the company has previously fished two first stage boosters out of the ocean as they test the engineering to allow the recover and reuse of those first stages, on this flight they made no such attempt.
The leaders in the 2021 launch race:
3 Northrop Grumman
3 Rocket Lab
The U.S. now leads China 30 to 23 in the national ranks. Last year the U.S. launched 40 times total. With the year seven months old, the U.S. has already reached three quarters of that number, suggesting that there is an outside chance that this year it could break its record of launches in a year, 70 in 1966. At the least the U.S. looks like it will achieve comparable launch numbers that were typical in the mid-1960s, at the dawn of the space age when NASA and the military were launching a lot to figure out the best way to do things.
Now the launches are privately owned, and exist because everyone is making money doing it. Assuming the world doesn’t get hit with a real disaster (instead of last year’s fake Wuhan flu panic), expect these numbers to continue to rise in the coming years.
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