Launch rate, or cadence, is not necessarily a fundamental metric for evaluating a launch provider, but it's an easy one.

From India Today's Sept. 18, 2018 article 6 months, 18 missions: ISRO sets new goals; ISRO is all set to complete 18 missions in a span of six months.

And now in a press release, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said, "We are going to have 18 missions in the next six months, virtually one launch every two weeks."

I read that as arithmetically being one launch every 10.7 days, but allowing for caution and modesty, it's extended to two weeks.

Among the higher cadence launch providers, are everyone's expectations for launch cadence for the next six moths or year roughly similar?, or would one provider stand out above the others according to this particular metric?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Cadence is not the right term for launch rate, as it implies modulation or change in amplitude or frequency. Frequency is simply the right word. $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Nov 4, 2018 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul I'll review the use of "cadence" in technical fields and let you know what I find, probably it's better applied in situations where some kind of sampling is happening. In the mean time I see "tempo" used more frequently, so have switched. space.stackexchange.com/search?q=tempo $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 4, 2018 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul "tempo" sighting: spaceflightnow.com/2017/02/25/… $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 4, 2018 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Paul reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge: Launch cadence !, Quora: How does SpaceX's launch cadence compare to competitors in the industry? I've rolled back to the original wording; in spaceflight the usage seems acceptable. But I'll follow-up in English SE. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 5, 2018 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, cadence is the word that companies like Rocket labs and SpaceX use to describe launch frequency. $\endgroup$
    – Ingolifs
    Nov 5, 2018 at 0:41

1 Answer 1



China is on track for 40 launches in 2018. (31 so far)


SpaceX is on track for 22-23 in 2018 (17 so far). But after that, the numbers drop precipitously.


ULA is at 8, Russia launched 9, but quite a few more planned (at least 3 more Soyuz alone) before the end of the year.


ESA (Ariane and Vega) has launched 7 and likely no more than 3 more this year.

analysis, compared to ISRO:

So 18 missions, period, is quite a good showing and puts them as number 3 on the planet if they did it in 2018.

That cadence is pretty high and suspect. Multiple launch sites helps, but you have to manufacture many boosters in that time period, so multiple factories help.

China got to that high number with a variety of booster types. SpaceX did it all with basically one booster (I count F-H as a special case of a F9).

For China to have 31 launches in 10 months is 3 a month, or about one every 10 days or so.

SpaceX is a little under 2 a month but their cadence is very spotty. Some bursts of multiple launches then long pauses.


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