Europe’s share of global orbital launches grew by 1% in 2015—from nearly 12% in 2014 to nearly 13% in 2015—although the number of launches conducted by the European coalition remained the same. The one European orbital spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, conducted all 11 orbital SLV launches in 2015.
2015 was a record year for India, increasing the number of launches the country conducted to an unprecedented high. India carried out nearly 6% of global orbital launch activity in 2015. The country’s five launches beat out the previous year’s record of four. India’s launch rate during the 20 years prior to 2015 averaged 1.7 SLV launches per year. There were no Indian launch failures during 2015.
China’s share of the global orbital launch market in 2015 nearly matched that of the United States. China accounted for slightly more than 22% of the global orbital launch market. China’s SLV launch rate of 19 for 2015 helped the country maintain its position in the global launch industry from 2014. Even though China launched two new SLVs in 2015, there were no known failures of Chinese SLVs in 2015 and 2014.
U.S. launch activities took slightly more than 23% of the global orbital launch market in 2015, helping the country remain behind only Russia for launch attempts in the world. Of the 20 SLVs launched from within the United States in 2015, 18 successfully reached orbit. Two launch failures, one SpaceX SLV and one experimental military SLV, affected the U.S. SLV launch rate in 2015, preventing it from reaching the previous year’s total of 23 attempted launches. Launch failures accounted for 10% of attempted U.S. launches in 2015, though a fairer industry comparison of slightly more than 5% could be assumed by subtracting the failure of the experimental launch vehicle. The 2014 launch failure rate for U.S. SLVs was slightly above 4%.
Development of suborbital reusable launch vehicles and related technologies continued in 2014. The European Space Agency (ESA) conducted integration and qualification activities for all systems of its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), a re-entry vehicle that will demonstrate technologies and systems ESA intends to use in future autonomous re-entry missions.
After one of its Zenit-3SL rockets suffered a launch failure in 2013, Sea Launch recovered in 2014. Sea Launch successfully launched a ## satellite into GTO in May 2014 after implementing recommended corrective actions in response to the 2013 accident.
India conducted ## orbital launch attempts in 2014, all of which were successful. The vehicle used for ## of the launches was the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which deployed ## PNT satellites into inclined geosynchronous orbits, and ## French imagery satellite into polar orbit. The ## launch, which carried a communications satellite into geostationary orbit, used India’s bigger Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
Japan successfully conducted ## orbital launches in 2014, placing a variety of payloads into orbit for domestic customers. Japan’s launch rate continues its climb from a low of ## in 2012 and ## in 2013. For all of the launches in 2014, Japan’s vehicle of choice was the H-IIA, launching out of Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
Europe conducted ## orbital launch attempts in 2014, all of which were successful. Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle carried most of the payloads, which deployed positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellites as well as the fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Georges Lemaitre, carrying cargo and fuel to the ISS.
China’s 2014 rate of ## launch attempts surpassed its 2013 total by ##. China’s launch vehicle family of choice was the Long March, and all ## of China’s launches were successful as they deployed a variety of military and civil spacecraft. One of China’s newest launch vehicles was previously expected to undertake its first flight in 2014.