TOP-10 countries by space launches

ranking 15/06/2020

The space is still one of the key engines of the technical progress, which is available only for a few countries having necessary scientific and industrial base and budgeting. Developments of the space industry affect each person’s life, and form the country’s image and future economy.

Throughout the history of space exploration beginning from October 4, 1957 when the USSR first developed, organized and launched artificial satellite, only 10 countries joined the space race: the USA, China, European Union (without breakdown by countries), India, Japan, Iran, Republic of Korea, Israel, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Australia. Australia had successful launches in 1967-1971, but then the national space program was scrapped.

Russia is still leading in space exploration: there are 3 300 launches of payload rockets or 56% of total launches. The USA’s share is 30%, and China’s – 6% (see Picture 1). Russia has been keeping the leadership over the past 10 years: there were 273 launches from 2010 to 2019; the second are the USA with 221 launches, and China with 216 launches is the third (see Table 1).

Picture 1. Total number of launches by countries, 1957-2019 Picture 1. Total number of launches by countries, 1957-2019

Picture 2 shows China’s active joining the great space powers. Not that long ago, the country lagged far behind Russia and the USA, and in 2018-2019 it became first by the number of launches.

Picture 2. Dynamics of space launches by countries in 2010-2019 2000-2019 Picture 2. Dynamics of space launches by countries in 2010-2019 2000-2019

Over the past ten years, an increase in the number of emergency and partial emergency launches is recorded in the Russian space program – 6,6% of total launches, that is slightly higher than in the USA (2,7%) and China (4,2%). In 2019, all 25 launches were under normal conditions for the first time since 2003.

Table 1. Statistics of space launches, the share of emergency launches, TOP-10 of countries
Country 1957-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 2010-2019
З* E** З E З E З E З E З E
USSR/Russia 449 18,5% 909 5,5% 954 3,6% 434 5,3% 263 4,9% 273 6,6%
USA 579 19,7% 280 7,5% 162 9,3% 295 7,1% 194 3,6% 221 2,7%
China 0 - 13 38,5% 15 6,7% 39 15,4% 64 4,7% 216 4,2%
European Union 4 25% 10 30% 26 15,4% 92 5,4% 68 2,9% 72 2,8%
India 0 - 1 100% 5 60% 7 42,9% 16 12,5% 45 6,7%
Japan 4 100% 17 17,6% 23 0% 17 17,6% 22 9,1% 37 2,7%
Iran 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 2 50% 9 55,6%
Republic of Korea 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 100% 4 50%
Israel 0 - 0 - 1 100% 3 33,3% 3 33,3% 3 0%
Democratic People's Republic of Korea 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 100% 1 100% 2 50%

Source: Gunter's Space Page, State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS, calculations by Credinform

Notes to Table 1: *З – number of space launches, **E – share of emergency and partial emergency.

Before the American Crew Dragon was launched on May 30, 2020, Russia was the only country have been implementing successful and accident free piloted program on the International Space Station (ISS) over the past 9 years.

Some media credit the private company with the American space launches, and proclaim the advent of the space age 2.0. It is fair to say that the private manned spaceflights are not private as the media stated: Elon Musk’s SpaceX is funding by the government. In 2014, over 3,1 billion US dollars were allocated from the budget to implement the project, and NASA is a constant customer.

As a comparison: the budget of the State CorporationROSCOSMOS for 2020 is estimated at 2,6 billion US dollars at a current exchange rate (176 billion RUB, excluding the defense order).