Rocketry Booms in 2022

Rocketry Booms in 2022. By Robert Zimmerman.

2022 remained the most successful year ever in rocketry, smashing the record for successful launches in a single year, set the previous year, by more than 33%. …

The rise of private enterprise has continued, mostly because of the relatively new players, SpaceX and Rocket Lab. …

SpaceX meanwhile smashed its previous annual launch record, almost doubling it. Its achievement of 61 successful launches in 2022, almost all of which relied on previously launched first stages and fairings, exceeded the entire annual launch totals of the entire United States since Sputnik for every year except two, as shown in the graph below.

Elon Musk has said that SpaceX is now targeting 100 launches in 2023 …

Free market wallops bureaucrats, again:

Beyond SpaceX, the launch record set in 2022 was achieved almost entirely by private companies selling their products to customers, whether those customers were commercial satellite companies or government entities.

Though NASA finally launched its SLS rocket in 2022, that rocket took eighteen years to create, cost about $60 billion, and was about seven years late. And it won’t launch again for another two to three years.

The launch record in 2022 was thus the result of Americans building private rockets competitively for profit, not a government space program dictating what everyone will do. Because of the chaotic freedom that competition engenders, combined with profits and actual achievement, expect that growth to continue.

For example, five new rocket startups (Firefly, Blue Origin, Relativity, ABL, and Aevum) had planned to complete their first launch in 2022. Only one succeeded, Firefly. Yet, the U.S. still had a record-breaking year.

Of the four companies that did not fly in 2022, three almost succeeded, but had to scrub or delay for technical reasons. The odds that all four will successfully launch in 2023 is quite high.

Out of the way, bureaucrats!