The United States made ## orbital launch attempts in 2012, all of which were successful. This total placed it third, behind Russia and China for the number of orbital launches performed in 2012. Among the 2012 U.S. launches were several noteworthy missions. The year saw the successful commercial debut of the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, the first privately developed spacecraft to berth with the ISS.
Global launch activity in 2012 was similar to activity during the previous five years in both the total number and the balance between commercial and non-commercial payloads. Throughout 2012, there were ## orbital launch attempts, all but ## of which were fully or partially successful.
Although Japan and India have both expressed interest in developing human spaceflight capabilities, neither has yet demonstrated strong commitment toward that goal. Japan is in early stage feasibility studies for its own crewed spacecraft, which would not be expected to fly before 2022. India identifies development of a human spaceflight program as an objective within its Five-Year Plan. However, specific details are sparse; India just states that it will focus on development of the technologies and systems necessary to support a human spaceflight program at some point.
In 2003, China became the third nation capable of human spaceflight, with the launch of the Shenzhou 5 mission. Since then, it has flown three additional missions, each one advancing Chinese spaceflight capabilities. So far, all Chinese crewed missions have used the Shenzhou spacecraft, which resembles a larger Russian Soyuz, although the Chinese space program has described the similarity as mostly cosmetic. The Shenzhou spacecraft have entered mass production, moving beyond the status of one-off experimental machines, after the design of Shenzhou 8 was finalized.
Russia has retained the ability to send cosmonauts into orbit since the launch of Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, in 1961. Currently, Russia is the only nation ferrying people to and from the ISS. In addition to using its Soyuz spacecraft for ISS transportation, Russia also sells or barters transportation services to individuals and other ISS partner nations.
The United States, after the Soviet Union, was the second nation to send a human into space, but it will not have its own human spaceflight capability for the next several years, following the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2012. The United States has several programs in development intended to restore its national human spaceflight capability.
The commercial space products and services sector was the largest contributor to space economy revenues in 2012. Total 2012 revenues for commercial space products and services were estimated at $## billion, ##% more than the $## billion estimated in 2011. This includes revenues from satellite broadcasting, communications, and Earth observation.
To recognize and raise awareness of new space products and services, the Space Foundation maintains its Space Technology Hall of Fame and Space Certification programs. In collaboration with NASA, the Space Technology Hall of Fame annually honors individuals or organizations that have improved the quality of life on Earth by developing a product based on space technology.
Interested in global space launch vehicle satellite activity? Please select the associated link to read about it. Launch data is updated every day during weekdays, excluding U.S. holidays.