Orbital Payload Launch
Russia remained the world’s leader in number of launches provided during 2015, taking slightly more than 30% of the global orbital launch market for the year. This position was earned even though the nation’s launch rate fell by 19% to 26 launches in 2015, down from 32 launches during both 2013 and 2014. While Russia’s launch rate fell in 2015, Russia’s space launch system reliability fell slightly as well. Nearly 12% of Russia’s 26 launch attempts for the year were partial or total failures.
The activities of three nations were responsible for nearly 76% of all of the world’s orbital SLV launches in 2015. Russia alone carried out 30% of the global orbital space launches, followed by the United States with a little more than 23%, and China with 22%. Compared to 2014, the number of orbital payload launches in 2015 dropped by six to 86.
Europe’s share of global orbital launches grew by 1% in 2015—from nearly 12% in 2014 to nearly 13% in 2015—although the number of launches conducted by the European coalition remained the same. The one European orbital spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, conducted all 11 orbital SLV launches in 2015.
2015 was a record year for India, increasing the number of launches the country conducted to an unprecedented high. India carried out nearly 6% of global orbital launch activity in 2015. The country’s five launches beat out the previous year’s record of four. India’s launch rate during the 20 years prior to 2015 averaged 1.7 SLV launches per year. There were no Indian launch failures during 2015.
China’s share of the global orbital launch market in 2015 nearly matched that of the United States. China accounted for slightly more than 22% of the global orbital launch market. China’s SLV launch rate of 19 for 2015 helped the country maintain its position in the global launch industry from 2014. Even though China launched two new SLVs in 2015, there were no known failures of Chinese SLVs in 2015 and 2014.
U.S. launch activities took slightly more than 23% of the global orbital launch market in 2015, helping the country remain behind only Russia for launch attempts in the world. Of the 20 SLVs launched from within the United States in 2015, 18 successfully reached orbit. Two launch failures, one SpaceX SLV and one experimental military SLV, affected the U.S. SLV launch rate in 2015, preventing it from reaching the previous year’s total of 23 attempted launches. Launch failures accounted for 10% of attempted U.S. launches in 2015, though a fairer industry comparison of slightly more than 5% could be assumed by subtracting the failure of the experimental launch vehicle. The 2014 launch failure rate for U.S. SLVs was slightly above 4%.
After one of its Zenit-3SL rockets suffered a launch failure in 2013, Sea Launch recovered in 2014. Sea Launch successfully launched a ## satellite into GTO in May 2014 after implementing recommended corrective actions in response to the 2013 accident.
India conducted ## orbital launch attempts in 2014, all of which were successful. The vehicle used for ## of the launches was the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which deployed ## PNT satellites into inclined geosynchronous orbits, and ## French imagery satellite into polar orbit. The ## launch, which carried a communications satellite into geostationary orbit, used India’s bigger Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
Japan successfully conducted ## orbital launches in 2014, placing a variety of payloads into orbit for domestic customers. Japan’s launch rate continues its climb from a low of ## in 2012 and ## in 2013. For all of the launches in 2014, Japan’s vehicle of choice was the H-IIA, launching out of Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
Europe conducted ## orbital launch attempts in 2014, all of which were successful. Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle carried most of the payloads, which deployed positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellites as well as the fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Georges Lemaitre, carrying cargo and fuel to the ISS.