Doug Messier today has compiled a list showing the launch totals worldwide for 2016, showing that though the U.S. and China tied for first with the most launches, 22, the U.S. won the race with fewer launch failures. Russia fell to third, almost entirely because its Proton rocket has been grounded since June.
What I find interesting is that, very slowly, the competing American companies are beginning to compile launch numbers that match those of whole nations. ULA completed 12 launches, which beat everyone but the U.S., China, and Russia. SpaceX, despite no launches after its September 1 launchpad explosion, still beat India and Japan, long considered established space powers, and finished only one launch total behind Europe.
Eventually, I believe SpaceX is going to get its technical problems ironed out. When that happens, the competition between them and ULA could have both companies producing numbers that beat out the national programs of Russia and China. In fact, I expect this to happen within three years, but more likely sooner.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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