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How many satellites were launched every year?

Similar question

Number of satellites launched by decade?

Resources for number of orbiting and active satellites by year?

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  • $\begingroup$ Search the satcat for things that are still in orbit and sort them by year. Just download a SATCAT or see planet4589.org/space $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 6 '20 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ Also, swarms like Starlink are going to skew the numbers by a lot. $\endgroup$ – SF. Nov 6 '20 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm asking for total number of satellites launched not for number of launches which is much smaller of course $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Nov 6 '20 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Download the SATCAT mentioned by @uhoh and have at it in Excel $\endgroup$ – Carlos N Nov 7 '20 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeJobs some people live exclusively in their phones and may not have access to spreadsheets or simply have an aversion to them as I do. But if you do/don't, this might be a good opportunity for you to do the exercise yourself and post the results as a an answer to your own question. It's always okay to answer your own question in SE. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '20 at 1:01
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Below is a simple count of entries in the 2017 SATCAT file, excluding debris. This list of satellites includes many man-made objects launched into orbit that you may not typically consider a "satellite". For example, the very first Sputnik launch also includes the second stage that orbited the Earth for a while. I don't know of any way to separate those types of satellites other than painfully going through the data and looking up each one.

YEAR   COUNT
----   -----
1957       3
1958      11
1959      19
1960      51
1961      84
1962     160
1963     143
1964     192
1965     354
1966     416
1967     333
1968     323
1969     267
1970     290
1971     403
1972     364
1973     410
1974     403
1975     502
1976     515
1977     577
1978     419
1979     621
1980     436
1981     494
1982     691
1983     596
1984     587
1985     587
1986     792
1987     480
1988     575
1989     506
1990     530
1991     334
1992     346
1993     282
1994     317
1995     266
1996     219
1997     306
1998     618
1999     718
2000     268
2001     186
2002     191
2003     224
2004     192
2005     167
2006     383
2007     223
2008     232
2009     243
2010     240
2011     264
2012     256
2013     328
2014     318
2015     292
2016     288
2017     355

It wouldn't surprise me if there were some weird exceptions I'm not counting properly. I've got a convenient data source that anybody can access as described in this answer, but perhaps someone with more knowledge of space exploration can verify the accuracy of the below query I used to generate the results:

--Satellites launched per year, excluding debris.
select to_char(launch_date, 'YYYY') year, count(*) count
from launch
join satellite
    on launch.launch_id = satellite.launch_id
where official_name not like 'deb %'
group by to_char(launch_date, 'YYYY')
order by year;

Note: This question could probably be better answered by using Jonathan McDowell's new data set - GCAT: General Catalog of Artificial Space Objects. But it will be a while before I have the new data loaded into a database, so you'll need to manually look at the files for the best answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1984 had 128 launches in total. That makes about 5 satellites per launch. Yet by looking at 1984 in spaceflight most launches have one satellite. per launch. I just wonder if this list contain some extra things counted as satellite - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_in_spaceflight $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Nov 8 '20 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ Asked a similar question will put a bounty on it soon - space.stackexchange.com/questions/48414/… $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Nov 8 '20 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ I think I may misunderstand the official definition of "satellite". Even after excluding debris, there are lots of satellites with names like "part". Maybe the results are including second stages and other random things related to satellites? I'm not sure how to filter those out though. You might want to look at this query for more details, and see if you can make sense of it: select * from launch join satellite on launch.launch_id = satellite.launch_id where official_name not like 'deb %' and to_char(launch_date, 'YYYY') = '1984' order by launch_tag; $\endgroup$ – Jon Heller Nov 8 '20 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Cant run a query from my phone. Can you run it for example for January 2016? It has 5 launches one satellite each. So we compare with the result. Or for the entire 2016. Can you upload the query result somewhere? $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Nov 9 '20 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ JonHeller - would you answer a question like "List of US states by number of orbital space launches?" I am also ready to put a bounty on it. $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Nov 22 '20 at 16:43

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