United States


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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Launch Attempts by Country and Category, 2023

The United States launched 11 military missions in the year, including payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office and a new generation of small communications satellites for the Space Development Agency. Russia launched 10 civil government missions in 2023, including Soyuz launches to send crews to the International Space Station, which remains one area of cooperation between the Kremlin and NASA. India made headlines with its successful launch of a lunar probe while the European Space Agency, awaiting its new Ariane-6 launch vehicle, launched three spacecraft including its Euclid space observatory.

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Launch Attempts by Select Nations, 2022-2023

The record number of launches came despite delays that pushed the debuts of several long-anticipated launch vehicles into 2024. It was the third consecutive year to shatter launch records, despite a decline in European and Russian launches.

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