Global launch activity reached another new bottom in 2005, reflecting the dramatic drop in new satellite orders at the start of the decade.
Only 53 launches were conducted worldwide in 2005 of commercial, military and civil satellites . The 2004 total was 55 — the lowest number of launches since the early days of the space race.
As has been the case for decades, launchers built in the former Soviet Union dominated the statistics in 2005. Of the rockets launched in 2005, more than half — 29 — were built in either Russia or Ukraine. The most active rocket was Russia’s Soyuz. Seven Soyuz rockets were launched by the Russian government, with another three launched by the French-Russian Starsem company. The Russian government also launched three Proton rockets in 2005. Four more Protons were launched for commercial customers by International Launch Services, which also launched three Lockheed Martin-built Atlas rockets.
Four Ukrainian-built Zenit 3SL rockets were used by Long Beach Calif.-based Sea Launch LLC to launch commercial payloads.
The year also saw the final two launches of Lockheed Martin’s heavy-lift Titan 4 rocket, which was retired in favor of rockets developed by Lockheed and Boeing under the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.