Iran


Launch Records Topple in 2024 with Busiest January of Space Age

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 starlink satellites launches from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, Jan. 7, 2024.A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 starlink satellites launches from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, Jan. 7, 2024.

Averaging a liftoff every 33 hours and 49 minutes, January’s 22 successful launches to space marked the busiest start to a year since the Space Age dawned in 1957, and put the globe on track for 259 launches in 2024, which would easily eclipse records set in 2023, according to a Space Foundation database. If the pace holds, this year could shatter 2023’s record of one launch every 39 hours, which sped past a record set in 2022 with a launch every 47 hours. Since 1957, January launches have proven to be a key predictor for annual launch numbers, with annual launch figures meeting or exceeding the January pace 93% of the time.

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Iran’s Recent Space Success Could Advance Nuclear Aims, Retired General Says

A Sunday launch that placed three Iranian satellites into orbit could signal the Islamic Republic’s ability to use its launch vehicles to deliver warheads to distant targets, warned retired Air Force Gen. Lance Lord, a former leader of Pentagon space efforts. Announced by Iran’s state news agency IRNA, the Sunday launch was the nation’s second successful space mission in the past month and the first to deliver multiple satellites. The three satellites, Mahda, Keyhan-2, and Hatef-1, were described by Iran as research satellites designed to test a variety of technologies including communications.

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Active Launch Vehicle Operators by Type, 2000-2022

Orbital launch attempts have more than tripled since a lull in activity in the early 2000s bottomed out at 55 attempts in 2004. Part of the rapid growth in the past few years is due to a sharp increase in launch vehicle operators after a long period with an average just shy of 10 distinct operators per year.

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Launch Attempts by Country and Mission Type, 2022

While the U.S. typically leads commercial satellite launches, China almost doubled its private missions in 2022—commercial payloads were 27% of the nation’s launches compared to 16% in 2021. Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. launched five batches of high-resolution imagery satellites for its Jilin-1 constellation and has deployed approximately half of its planned 138 satellites.

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Rivals Launch Military Satellites Amid U.S.-led Space Defense Drills

A flurry of military and intelligence satellite launches by rival powers this month came as the United States and two dozen partner nations wrapped up the largest global space defense wargame in history.

Russia launched what some leaders have described as a spy satellite for Iran and its own on-orbit snooping satellite Cosmos-2558, which is circling Earth in an orbit conspicuously close to a recently launched U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite, a Netherlands researcher confirmed.

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Orbital Launch Attempts, 2021

Commercial space activity refers to efforts undertaken by private industry with little or no government investment. Commercial space revenue in 2021 totaled $362 billion.Commercial space activity refers to efforts undertaken by private industry with little or no government investment. Commercial space revenue in 2021 totaled $362 billion.

Of the 55 commercial launches attempted in 2021, 31 occurred in the United States. Of these, 23 were carried out by SpaceX, all of which were successful. China and Russia each conducted nine commercial launches in 2021. All six Russian launches were conducted on the Soyuz launch vehicle, and all were successful.

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