Bryce Releases Q1 2023 Space Launch Stats22nd May 2023
Bryce Tech has published its report on space launches for Q1 2023. There is no surprise that Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has been leading the way. However, some of the other numbers do surprise.
There were 52 space launches in Q1
SpaceX was the most active, with 21 launches in the three-month period, followed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), responsible for 12 launches.
Roscosmos had six orbital launches, RocketLab launched three times, with a number of other companies responsible for one or two launches. Of course, one of these was the failed launch by Virgin Orbit earlier this year.
SpaceX launched 700+ more spacecraft than any other company
In Q1, SpaceX was responsible for launching 763 spacecraft, which is the most of any launch provider, and by a significant margin. Second, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 39 spacecraft, and CASC launched 31 spacecraft. And then, we get into single figures, with Virgin Orbit launching 8 spacecraft (well, sort of) and RocketLab launching 7.
Following this trend, SpaceX launched approximately 233,114 kg of spacecraft upmass in Q1, which is almost an order of magnitude more than CASC, with about 23,965 kg, and then Roscosmos, with 23,093 kg.
The majority of spacecraft launched in Q1 were communication satellites
Driven by the continual deployment of the Starlink constellation, 81% of spacecraft launched between January and March were communication satellites.
Aside from this, 12% were for remote censoring, 4% for technology development, 0.5% for crew and cargo transport, 0.2% for scientific purposes, and 2% for other reasons.
Smallsats represent 96% of spacecraft launched in Q1
Finally, smallsats accounted for a massive 96% of spacecraft launched in Q1, as well as 65% of the total mass. Most spacecraft launched in Q1 are operated by commercial companies.
What does Q2 hold?
We’re all expecting to see SpaceX top the charts when Q2’s figures are released, but will there be any significant changes? And will Virgin Orbit, or some other entity flying Cosmic Girl, make the charts?