2023 Orbital Launches, by Country

2023 was a record-setting year for global launch. To recap the year, the legend himself, astronomer Jonathan McDowell, compiled his annual 2023 space activity report. The paper includes endless data goodies to nerd out on.

US reigns supreme: The year-over-year jump in US launches was driven by SpaceX and its ol’ reliable Falcon 9 rocket. 

  • SpaceX notched 98 total orbital launch attempts in 2023 between the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Starship, representing 90% of US launches. 
  • Other than SpaceX—and excluding Rocket Lab Electron launches out of New Zealand—no other US company logged more than three launch attempts.

European launch: The trend line is going the wrong way for European launch. Euro launch saw just three launches last year (two Ariane 5 and one Vega). The first half of the year looks like it will start off slow again; however, help is on the way, with Vega-C’s return to flight and Ariane 6’s debut slated for the second half of the year. 

China launch: China logged 67 orbital launch attempts last year, continuing its steady climb up and to the right. The Long March 2D led the way with 13 launches. Chinese rocket startup Galactic Energy’s Ceres-1 solid rocket tied for second with seven launches last year (including China’s sole 2023 launch failure). 

+ Commercial: Commercially operated rockets were responsible for 65% of global launch attempts in 2023, up from 55% in 2022.

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