International Space Transportation

International Space Transportation

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Space transportation has been a priority for the United States for over 50 years. Early interest was fueled by the Cold War. The U.S.S.R. launched the first satellite, Sputnik, from Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 4, 1957. Soon after, the United States established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to advance space science.

Figure 1 - Orbital Launch Events (yearly data, 1997-2001)
Figure 1 - Orbital Launch Events (yearly data, 1997-2001). If you are a user with a disability and cannot view this image, please call 800-853-1351 or email answers@bts.gov for further assistance.

NOTE: India did not launch any vehicles during 1998 or 2000. Brazil did not launch any vehicles in 1998, 2000, or 2001.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Commercial Space Transportation: Year in Review (Washington, DC: annual issues), available at http://ast.faa.gov/.

Today, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. space industry are international leaders in space transportation. From 1997 to 2001, the United States launched 162 space vehicles (figure 1) [2]. Ninety-four percent of those vehicles placed their payloads into the proper orbit. There are four active launch sites in the U.S. Launches from the California-based maritime launch site, Sea Launch, have also been included in the total for U.S. launches.

Russia launched 141 vehicles between 1997 and 2001, and 95 percent of those vehicles successfully placed their payload into orbit [2]. Most of those launches departed from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan agreed to lease Baikonur Cosmodrome to Russia in 1994. Russia also utilizes two other launch sites on Russian soil for smaller launch vehicles and payloads.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace, a European company, launch commercial, military, and government satellites from the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), in Kourou, French Guiana. Of the 52 vehicles launched from CSG between 1997 and 2001, 51 were successful- a 98% success rate [2]. China, India, and Japan have also established space programs, which successfully launched a combined 31 vehicles between 1997 and 2001. During that period, Japan, with a success rate of 57%, experienced 3 failed launches [2].

Most active launch sites create a demand for domestically manufactured space vehicles because the launch pads are compatible with those vehicles only. For example, CSG only launches vehicles manufactured by the European space industry. One of the few exceptions is Sea Launch, which uses Russian Zenit rockets.

Commercial launch services-launches that are not military or civil government launches-generate revenue (figure 2). Europe has become the leader in commercial launch revenues. The Centre Spatial Guyanais, in Kourou, French Guiana, collected an estimate $948 million in revenues in 2001, nearly twice as much as all other nations combined. Launch activity declined sharply in 2001. There were 16 commercial launches, down from 35 in 2000. Commercial launch revenues declined 27 percent [2].

Figure 2 - Estimated Commercial Launch Revenues (1995-2001)
Figure 2 - Estimated Commercial Launch Revenues (1995-2001). If you are a user with a disability and cannot view this image, please call 800-853-1351 or email answers@bts.gov for further assistance.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Commercial Space Transportation: Year in Review (Washington, DC: annual issues), available at http://ast.faa.gov/.

Figure 3 - Successfully Launched Satellites by Satellite Operator Country: 2001
Figure 3 - Successfully Launched Satellites by Satellite Operator Country: 2001. If you are a user with a disability and cannot view this image, please call 800-853-1351 or email answers@bts.gov for further assistance.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Commercial Space Transportation: Year in Review (Washington, DC: annual issues), available at http://ast.faa.gov/.

U.S. organizations successfully launched 23 satellites in 2001 - 36 percent of all satellites launched that year (figure 3). Russia put 22 satellites into orbit. Together, the U.S. and Russian organizations operate over 70 percent of the satellites placed into orbit during 2001. Two failed launches - one U.S. and one European - resulted in 4 lost satellites during 2001. Three of the lost satellites were U.S. satellites. Japan lost one satellite. Lost satellites are not included in figure 3.

In addition, a consortium of 16 countries jointly supported 13 missions to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001. Six of the 8 crewed missions utilized NASA shuttles. The remaining missions, including 5 unmanned missions, were completed with Russian Soyuz vehicles.

Figure 4 - Successfully Launched Satellites by Type: 2001
Figure 4 - Successfully Launched Satellites by Type: 2001. If you are a user with a disability and cannot view this image, please call 800-853-1351 or email answers@bts.gov for further assistance.

NOTES:
Communications satellite: Television, radio, telephone, Internet, and other data transmission satellites
Scientific and Development satellites: Scientific research satellites and dummy payloads used for testing launch vehicles
Remote sensing satellite: Imaging satellites
Navigation satellites: GPS and GLONASS satellites
Classified satellites: Satellites of an unknown type and purpose
Meteorological satellites: Weather or environment monitoring satellites
Intelligence satellites: Satellites used for intelligence gathering
Other: Any other satellite not included in other type categories

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Commercial Space Transportation: Year in Review (Washington, DC: annual issues), available at http://ast.faa.gov/.

Military satellites play a key role in supporting the security of the United States. Satellites have improved military communication, reconnaissance, navigation, and meteorological forecasting capabilities. Thus, maintaining a strong manufacturing base and a skilled workforce capable of successful launches are national security concerns.

U.S. military navigation satellites, or global positioning satellites (GPS), are also used for many civilian applications, including transportation. GPS consists of 24 military satellites that emit radio signals. On the ground, GPS receivers use the signals to determine a precise location, altitude, and time. GPS has been inte-grated into the navigation systems of vehicles used for nearly all modes of trans-portation, including maritime, aviation, highway, rail, and transit.

Russia maintains a similar navigation satellite constellation, Global Naviga-tion Satellite System, or GLONASS. Europe has just approved funding for a new set of navigation satellites, to be known as the Galileo Global Navigation Satel-lite System (GNSS), which could be completed by 2008.