Space exploration is a significant income source for the national budget.
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.
Trouble on the International Space Station (ISS) may have thawed relations between Russia and the United States. The two nations overcame tensions in January for a Moscow summit on resolving problems aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to bring home astronauts who were scheduled to fly aboard the capsule damaged by a micrometeorite.
For the second consecutive year, space launches set all-time records as operators sent a historic number of 179 successful missions into orbit in 2022. With 41 more attempts than 2021, the year also set a new record for the sheer volume increase of launches year over year.
Space launch activity continued to grow rapidly in 2022, reaching a new high of 186 orbital launch attempts. Last year was filled with successes and had three fewer failures than 2021, even with 41 more attempts.
In a first-of-its-kind shift in stated strategy, the Biden Administration pledged, in a document that outlines Pentagon plans, to protect growing American commercial interests in space while advancing military space capabilities and international cooperation in orbit. Military space has returned to the spotlight in recent years after a slump that accompanied the end of the Cold War.
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.
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.
The first six months of 2022 saw a record pace of space launches, matching the mark of 75 set in the first half of 1967. And through June 30, the year saw a record pace for successful launches, topping the mark of 70 set in 1984.
Total government space spending in 2021 reached $107 billion, a 19% increase from 2020, based on Space Foundation analysis. Space Foundation examined government space spending of 46 nations, including 14 nations new to the analysis this year.