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Two launches today, one by ULA and one by China

Today there were two successful launches. First China launched a remote sensing satellite using its Long March 6 rocket that lifted off from its Taiyuan spaceport in the south of China.

No word on where the rocket’s lower stages and four strap-on boosters crashed inside China.

Shortly thereafter, ULA used its Atlas-5 rocket to place a reconnaissance satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

For ULA, this was only its second launch in 2023. The leaders in the 2023 launch race are now as follows, with China’s total corrected:

63 SpaceX
42 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

In the national rankings, American private enterprise now leads China in successful launches 73 to 42. It also now leads the entire world combined, 73 to 67, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) only 63 to 67.

CORRECTION: Hat tip to reader John Foley (see his comment below), who noted that China’s total appeared to be one short. I went back and discovered I had missed a March 22, 2023 launch of a Kuaizhou 1A rocket from the Jiujian spaceport, placing four weather satellites in orbit. I have now added that launch to China’s total, and corrected the other numbers.

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  • john foley

    I believe China has 42 successful orbit launches.
    Jan 5, Feb 2, Mar 7, Apr 3, May 4, Jun 4, Jul 6, Aug 8, Sep 3

  • john foley: Did I miss one? I will check.

  • john Foley: You are correct. I missed a launch on March 22, 2023 by China of its Kuaizhou 1A rocket. I will add it and note the correction in this post.

  • Richard M

    Even without counting any Starship launches, 95 launches for the year looks attainable, if SpaceX keep up this pace. Which is astounding to think about.

  • Jeff Wright

    Had I Musk’s ear…I would’ve tried to get him to build Twitter’s worth of new Falcon pads in a row at Florida,

    Imagine ten launch pads, and 10 landing pads…

  • sippin_bourbon


    Imagine an single spaceport with that many launch and landing pads in general, all for commercial use, in general.
    I think the government fears this, personally. Less control.

    How effective would marine and aviation commerce be if every vessel that sailed or every plane that flew had to get explicit permission for every individual voyage. As it is, carriers get licensed, aviators and mariners get certified and licensed, and aircraft and vessels inspected, certified and licensed. But a license for every trip would be overwhelming.

    This is the model that should be pushed. SpaceX has proved that the frequency for such a model will be needed.

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