Space: Russia in the Lead Again


January 4, 2006: Russia has again become the most active satellite launching nation. In 2005, Russia carried out 24 launches, compared to 23 in 2004. In those same years, the United States had only 12 and 16 launches. Europe launched five in 2005, as did China, while Japan launched two. At the moment, Russia has 45.5 percent of the international satellite launching market, followed by the United States with 22.6 percent.

During the Cold War, Russia carried out even more launches, but those were primarily military. Russia's military satellite fleet has shrunk year by year since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Now Russia has a ten year plan to rebuild that fleet, but with much fewer, and more capable, satellites. Currently, most of Russia's launches are for commercial satellites, for Russia uses cheap and reliable launchers, which attract a lot of business from other nations eager to get their satellites in orbit at low cost.


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