This is a timeline of first orbital launches by country. While a number of countries, incl. Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Argentina, Italy, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Nigeria, the Philippines, Egypt, Spain, Mexico, Thailand and Chile, have built or launched satellites, as of 2022, eleven countries, incl. the United States, Japan, India, China, Iran, Israel, France, the United Kingdom and South Korea, have had the capability to send objects into orbit with their own launch vehicles. Russia and Ukraine inherited the capability of the space launchers and satellites from the Soviet Union, following its dissolution in 1991. Russia launches its rockets from its own and foreign (Kazakh) spaceports.
Ukraine launched only from foreign (Kazakh and Russian) launch facilities until 2015, after which political differences with Russia effectively halted Ukraine's ability to produce orbital rockets.France became a space power independently, launching a payload into orbit from Algeria, before joining space launcher facilities in the multi-national Ariane project. The United Kingdom became a space power independently following a single payload insertion into orbit from Australia.
Ten countries and one inter-governmental organisation (ESA) have a proven orbital launch capability, as of November 2021 [update] . Three countries (France, Italy and the United Kingdom) formerly had such an independent capability. In all cases where a country has conducted independent human spaceflights (as of 2021, three — China, the Soviet Union/Russia, and the United States), these launches were preceded by independent uncrewed launch capability.
The race to launch the first satellite was closely contested by the Soviet Union and the United States, and was the beginning of the Space Race. The launching of satellites, while still contributing to national prestige, is a significant economic activity as well, with public and private rocket systems competing for launches, using cost and reliability as selling points.
Countries like Italy are not included since they have not yet developed an orbital rocket from scratch; i.e., an orbital rocket that was designed and engineered in its entirety in the country in question.
|1||Soviet Union||Governmental||Sputnik 1||Sputnik-PS||Baikonur, Soviet Union (today Kazakhstan)||4 October 1957|
|2||United States||Explorer 1||Juno I||Cape Canaveral, United States||1 February 1958|
|3||France||Astérix||Diamant A||CIEES/Hammaguir, Algeria||26 November 1965|
|4||Japan||Ohsumi||Lambda-4S||Uchinoura, Japan||11 February 1970|
|5||China||Dong Fang Hong 1||Long March 1||Jiuquan, China||24 April 1970|
|6||United Kingdom||Prospero||Black Arrow||Woomera, Australia||28 October 1971|
|—||European Space Agency||CAT-1 (Obélix )||Ariane 1||Kourou, French Guiana||24 December 1979|
|7||India||Rohini 1 (RS-1)||SLV||Sriharikota, India||18 July 1980|
|8||Israel||Ofeq 1||Shavit||Palmachim, Israel||19 September 1988|
|—||Ukraine||Strela-3 (x6, Russian)||Tsyklon-3||Plesetsk, Soviet Union (today Russia)||28 September 1991|
|—||Russia||Kosmos 2175||Soyuz-U||Plesetsk, Russia||21 January 1992|
|9||Iran||Omid||Safir-1A||Semnan, Iran||2 February 2009|
|10||North Korea||Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2||Unha-3||Sohae, North Korea||12 December 2012|
|11||South Korea||STSat-2C||Naro-1||Goheung, South Korea||30 January 2013|
Two countries, Italy and New Zealand, have contributed in the creation or continuation of orbital launch systems.
|1||Italy||Governmental||San Marco 1||Scout-X4||San Marco platform, Kenya||15 December 1964|
|2||New Zealand||Private||Humanity Star||Electron||Mahia LC-1A, New Zealand||21 January 2018|
The above list includes confirmed satellite launches with rockets produced by the launching country, like Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom or the United States. Lists with differing criteria might include the following launches:
Some countries have no self-developed rocket systems, but have provided their spaceports for launches of their own and foreign satellites on foreign launchers:
Many other countries, such as Mexico, Poland, Chile, Japan and India, launched their own satellites on one of the foreign launchers listed above, the first being British owned and operated; American-built satellite Ariel 1, which was launched by a US rocket in April 1962. In September 1962, the Canadian satellite, Alouette-1, was launched by a US rocket, but unlike Ariel 1, it was constructed by Canada.
An expendable launch system is a launch vehicle that can be launched only once, after which its components are either destroyed during reentry or discarded in space. ELVs typically consist of several rocket stages that are discarded sequentially as their fuel is exhausted and the vehicle gains altitude and speed. As of 2022, most satellites and human spacecraft are currently launched on ELVs. ELVs are simpler in design than reusable launch systems and therefore may have a lower production cost. Furthermore, an ELV can use its entire fuel supply to accelerate its payload, offering greater payloads. ELVs are proven technology in widespread use for many decades.
Spaceflight is an application of astronautics to fly objects, usually spacecraft, into or through outer space, either with or without humans on board. Most spaceflight is uncrewed and conducted mainly with spacecraft such as satellites in orbit around Earth, but also includes space probes for flights beyond Earth orbit. Such spaceflight operate either by telerobotic or autonomous control. The more complex human spaceflight has been pursued soon after the first orbital satellites and has reached the Moon and permanent human presence in space around Earth, particularly with the use of space stations. Human spaceflight programs include the Soyuz, Shenzhou, the past Apollo Moon landing and the Space Shuttle programs. Other current spaceflight are conducted to the International Space Station and to China's Tiangong Space Station.
The Guiana Space Centre, also called Europe's Spaceport, is a European spaceport to the northwest of Kourou in French Guiana, a region of France in South America. Kourou is located approximately 310 mi (500 km) north of the equator at a latitude of 5°. In operation since 1968, it is a suitable location for a spaceport because of its equatorial location and open sea to the east.
The Brazilian Space Agency is the civilian authority in Brazil responsible for the country's space program. It operates a spaceport at Alcântara, and a rocket launch site at Barreira do Inferno. It is the largest and most prominent space agency in Latin America.
Vega is an expendable launch system in use by Arianespace jointly developed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Development began in 1998 and the first launch took place from the Centre Spatial Guyanais on 13 February 2012.
A launch vehicle is typically a rocket-powered vehicle designed to carry a payload from Earth's surface or lower atmosphere to outer space. The most common form is the ballistic missile-shaped multistage rocket, but the term is more general and also encompasses vehicles like the Space Shuttle. Most launch vehicles operate from a launch pad, supported by a launch control center and systems such as vehicle assembly and fueling. Launch vehicles are engineered with advanced aerodynamics and technologies, which contribute to high operating costs.
The State Space Agency of Ukraine is the Ukrainian government agency responsible for space policy and programs. Along with the Ukrainian Defense Industry and the Antonov Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex, it is a major state complex of the national defense industry of Ukraine.The agency was formed in 1992 based on the Soviet space program infrastructure remaining in Ukraine following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Fregat (Russian: Фрегат, frigate) is an upper stage developed by NPO Lavochkin in the 1990s, which is used in some Soyuz and Zenit launch vehicles, but is universal and can be used as a part of a medium and heavy class launch vehicles. Fregat became operational in February 2000. Its liquid propellant engine uses UDMH and N2O4. Fregat's success rate is 97.8% (with 2 failures in 93 launches), which makes it one of the most reliable upper stages in the world. Fregat has successfully delivered more than 300 payloads into different orbits. It remains the only upper stage in the world that can place its payload into 3 or more different orbits in a single launch.
This comparison of orbital launch systems lists the attributes of all individual rocket configurations designed to reach orbit. A first list contains rockets that are operational or in development as of 2023; a second list includes all upcoming rockets and a third list includes all retired rockets For the simple list of all conventional launcher families, see: Comparison of orbital launchers families. For the list of predominantly solid-fueled orbital launch systems, see: Comparison of solid-fueled orbital launch systems.
The Tsyklon-4, also known as Tsiklon-4 and Cyclone-4, was a Ukrainian carrier rocket which was being developed for commercial satellite launches. Derived from the Tsyklon-3, it had a new third stage, a larger payload fairing, and a modernised flight control system compared to its predecessor. The control system had been developed by JSC Khartron.
The Ensemble de Lancement Soyouz (ELS) is a launch complex at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou/Sinnamary, French Guiana. It was used by Soyuz-ST rockets: modified versions of the Soyuz-2 optimised for launch from Kourou under Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre programme.
This article compares different orbital launcher families. The article is organized into two tables: the first table contains a list of currently active and under-development launcher families, while the second table contains a list of retired launcher families.
Electron is a two-stage, partially recoverable orbital launch vehicle developed by Rocket Lab, an American aerospace company with a wholly owned New Zealand subsidiary. Electron was developed to service the commercial small satellite launch market. Its Rutherford engines are the first electric-pump-fed engine to power an orbital-class rocket. Electron is often flown with a kickstage or Rocket Lab's Photon spacecraft. Although the rocket was designed to be expendable, Rocket Lab has recovered the first stage twice and is working towards the capability of reusing the booster. The Flight 26 (F26) booster has featured the first helicopter catch recovery attempt.
Space launch market competition is the manifestation of market forces in the launch service provider business. In particular it is the trend of competitive dynamics among payload transport capabilities at diverse prices having a greater influence on launch purchasing than the traditional political considerations of country of manufacture or the national entity using, regulating or licensing the launch service.
The Cyclone-4M is a Ukrainian carrier rocket which is being developed for commercial satellite launches.
This article documents notable spaceflight events during the year 2022. For the second year in a row, new records were set for the most orbital launch attempts and the most successful orbital launches in a year.
This article documents notable and expected spaceflight events during the year 2023.
Orbital Express Launch Ltd., or Orbex, is a United Kingdom-based aerospace company that is developing a small commercial orbital rocket called Prime. Orbex is headquartered in Forres, Moray, in Scotland and has subsidiaries in Denmark and Germany. Its future launch complex, Sutherland spaceport, is being built on the A' Mhòine peninsula in the county of Sutherland, northern Scotland.
Miura 5 is a two-stage European orbital recoverable launch vehicle of the Spanish company PLD Space currently under development. Miura 5 will be 34 m long, capable of inserting 1000 kg of payload into a low Earth orbit (LEO), featuring an optional kick stage that can circularize the orbits of satellites. All stages are planned to be liquid-propelled. The launch vehicle was previously called Arion 2 but in 2018 PLD Space changed its name.
Skyrora Ltd is a private space company based in the United Kingdom since 2017.