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As the pace of small satellite development and global launches continues to accelerate, nations around the world are developing spaceport policies and courting launch providers and other space industries with the intent of expanding their access to space.
Operators deployed ~421 spacecraft with a mass of 200 kg or less, 18% of all deployed spacecraft in 2022. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites comprised over half the spacecraft mass deployed in 2022. The company’s Starlink deployments added up to 518,523 kg, nearly double the 257,140 kg it deployed in 2021. The largest spacecraft deployed during 2022 was Lockheed Martin’s Orion space capsule (25,848 kg), deployed during NASA’s first Artemis/Space Launch System launch.
Mass estimates of all spacecraft deployed during 2022 exclude many of China’s spacecraft deployments and all U.S. classified spacecraft. However, without the mass totals from those two spacecraft operators, the overall spacecraft mass deployed during 2022 is estimated to be ~961,200 kilograms(kg), averaging ~415 kg per deployed spacecraft.
Satellites deployed with EO/RS payloads in 2022 (265) exceeded EO/RS satellite deployments in 2021 (191). More than half of the EO/RS payloads (149) involved optical imagery collection system. Other EO/RS satellites hosted payloads that detect radio waves emanating from the Earth. Satellites with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads made up about 11% (24) of EO/RS satellite deployments in 2022,
U.S. company SpaceX Starlink deployed 1,689 satellites, a 71% increase from the 989 satellites it deployed in 2021. On the other hand, OneWeb, a U.K. company, deployed 110 satellites, less than half the number it deployed the previous year (284). Also falling under the communications category were satellites with Internet of Things (IoT) payloads. Operators deployed 84 IoT satellites in 2022. Also under the communications category were the 27 satellites hosting ship-tracking payloads deployed in 2022.
The 2,354 spacecraft deployed during 2022 each contained at least one payload to fulfill mission requirements. The Space Report separates those payloads into four categories: communications; EO/RS; position, navigation, and timing (PNT); and space transportation.
Compared with 2021’s 90% commercial spacecraft deployment share, 2022’s increased to 91%, even as spacecraft deployed in 2022 grew by 36% over the previous year. Spacecraft with civil government mission payloads accounted for 107 (4.5%) of all spacecraft deployed in 2022, slightly higher than 2021’s 99 civil government spacecraft deployments. Military missions comprised the remaining 3.5% (80) of the world’s deployed spacecraft in 2022, higher than the 69 military spacecraft deployments in 2021.
Historically, orbiters have been the most common lunar mission type (35%). Planned lunar space stations such as Gateway could expand capabilities in lunar orbit. However, most planned missions over the next decade are for lunar landers.
Eight nations have launched lunar missions, but only three have landed on the Moon. In 2022, four missions were partially or fully successful, a tempo last seen in 1969 — the year the first humans stepped foot on the lunar surface.
Spacecraft operators worldwide deployed 2,354 spacecraft in 2022, a 36% increase from 2021. Of these payloads, 91% were commercial, the majority coming from broadband mega-constellations like Starlink and OneWeb.