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.

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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Facing Safety, Budget Concerns, NASA Delays Artemis Moon Missions

With budget cuts on the horizon and technical hurdles to vault before astronauts return to the Moon, NASA pushed the brakes on its Artemis program launch schedule Tuesday, delaying a planned lunar fly-by mission into 2025 and its planned landing into 2026. The agency cited safety concerns for the delay, including an ongoing investigation into problems with a heatshield, which was damaged when the uncrewed Artemis I capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere after a 2022 test flight. The move also comes as congressional negotiators mull slimming the agency’s budget by more than $500 million from its 2023, and $2.2 billion short of NASA’s 2024 budget request.

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Second Starship Test Flies Higher Before Failure

With 33 Raptor engines belching flame, SpaceX’s Starship demonstrated the full power of its main booster, reaching an altitude of 91 miles before the second uncrewed attempt to launch the massive rocket from Boca Chica, Texas, ended when the second stage apparently failed.

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