U.S. and China top Russia for most launches in 2016

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The competition heats up: In 2016 it appears that the United States will complete the most rocket launches, at 20, followed by China with 19 and Russia with 18.

For the past two decades Russia has generally been the yearly leader in launches, but recent competition from the U.S. private sector and China’s surging government program, combined with lagging quality control problems and budget shortages in Russia, has had their launch rate decline to third. I also fully expect the U.S. lead to grow in the coming years as a range of low cost new companies come on line.



  • mkent

    18, 19, & 20, respectively, are what the Russians, Chinese, and Americans have now. They also have at least 2, 3, and 3 more scheduled this year, respectively. However, the Chinese have been known to launch missions unannounced, and they for some reason launch heavily in November and December. I wouldn’t be surprised to see China pop off another two unannounced.

    Despite what has been reported at the link and elsewhere, it won’t be the first time America led in the annual orbital launch count. She did that every year from 1958 to 1965. Perhaps other years too, but I’m too lazy to dig through all of the stats right now.

  • LocalFluff

    Proton has been out of traffic since the summer, but so too Falcon 9 since 3 months now. So in terms of capacity without such problems, China seems to be slightly behind.

  • Edward

    The article has been corrected. It now acknowledges the US lead in the early years, and also mentions a US lead in the mid 1990s. Good eye on your part.

  • David

    If SpaceX successfully makes its launch vehicles reusable, thereby slashing costs, do you think the U.S. launch rate will surge ahead of both Russia and China?

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