SpaceX successfully launches Luxembourg’s first government satellite

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Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched Luxembourg’s first government satellite, GovSat 1.

The launch used a previously flown first stage, which was intentionally not recovered on this flight. They did however land it in the ocean, probably to simply practice the entire routine.

The 2018 launch standings:

5 China
2 SpaceX
1 Rocket Lab
1 Europe
1 India
1 Japan

This launch puts the U.S. and China in a tie for the lead. I must also note that the world’s aerospace industry completed 13 launches in the first month of 2018. If this pace is maintained, we shall see about 150 launches in 2018, the most since before 1980, and possible the most in a single year ever. (I need to check the records for the 1970s, as it is possible but very unlikely this number was topped during that time.)



  • Fred K

    This data is interesting. Keep up the good work covering the new space age with this reporting angle.

    Will you count RocketLab as US? NZ? or strictly commercial? Depends where they launch from?

    Does the Ariane launch count as a success?

    Lot’s of interesting questions these days.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Seems everyone but the Russians are looking to seriously up their game this year. By Valentine’s Day, SpaceX could well match the current Chinese total of five launches. The Chinese, though, are scheduled to have one or two more launches accomplished by that time. Fun times.

  • Fred K: I consider Rocket Lab American. They launch from New Zealand, but the company is American owned and built.

    Ariane 5’s launch I considered a success, though this could be argued. The primary satellite got to orbit and the customer seems satisfied.

  • mkent

    I would give the Kiwis more credit. The company was originally founded in New Zealand by a New Zealander, and the primary investor was a Kiwi as well. In addition, Electron was designed mostly in New Zealand, built mostly in New Zealand, and launched from New Zealand, all largely by New Zealanders. They incorporated in the United States primarily to get access to U. S. government contracts.

    This is, in my opinion, analogous to Space Systems / Loral being owned by the Canadian company MDA. It is eligible under Canadian law for loans by the Canadian version of the Export / Import bank, but it is American in all but legality.

    They do seem to be moving more of their future work (e.g. engine production) to the United States, but I’m pretty sure most of the initial work was done in the other hemisphere.

  • Kirk

    Elon Musk: This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn’t hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived. We will try to tow it back to shore.

    Check out the photo, Wow!

  • Dick Eagleson

    Rocket Lab has a pretty sizable building in Huntington Beach, CA where it is apparently setting up engine and avionics production. Engines and avionics constitute most of the cost of a launch vehicle. If the company decides to launch from one or more U.S. spaceports, in addition to their current base in Middle Earth, this building looks plenty big enough to support fabrication of entire stages should that be part of Rocket Lab’s future plans.

    I agree with mkent that Rocket Lab is of New Zealand origin, but its U.S. tail seems on the way to wagging the Kiwi dog. That makes the company American enough to put its launches in the U.S. column, I suppose, though adding a line item for New Zealand to your tallies is also reasonable. If Rocket Lab does start launching from U.S. spaceports, those missions would certainly be unambiguously in the U.S. launch total.

  • eddie willers


    Can the Duchy of Grand Fenwick be far behind?

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