In the year 2022, the rocket launch industry has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. Advances in technology and innovative business models have made space more accessible and affordable than ever before.
One of the most significant developments in the industry has been the widespread adoption of fully reusable rockets. These vehicles are able to complete multiple launches without requiring significant refurbishment, greatly reducing the cost of access to space. Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have pioneered this technology, and it has now become standard practice in the industry. Even Rocketlab is trying interesting ideas like catching the first stage with a helicopter and Arianespace will begin testing their reusable prototype in 2023.
SpaceX almost doubles their 2021 launch total of 31 with their successful launch on December 29th from Vandenburg, bringing their total launch to a record-breaking 61. China slightly beats SpaceX for the most launches with their government program, and 2 launches from the commercial China. If we sorted by country, USA has the most launches.
Rise of Small Satellite Launch
In addition to reusable rockets, the industry has also seen the rise of small satellite launch vehicles. These vehicles are specifically designed to carry small payloads into orbit, making it possible for a wider range of organizations and individuals to access space. This has opened up new opportunities for research, communication, and exploration, and has enabled the development of a whole new industry based on small satellites.
As the cost of access to space has decreased, there has been a boom in space tourism. Companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are offering regular suborbital flights to paying customers, giving them the opportunity to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth from space. In 2022, we also saw private customers goto the International Space Station in concert with Axiom Space.
Overall, the rocket launch industry in 2022 is a thriving and dynamic sector, with new technologies and business models enabling a wide range of activities in orbit. The future looks bright for the industry, with many exciting developments on the horizon.
Graphics & Text by Leah Malmos