Some space launches are made from Florida, some from Texas, some from California and so on.

Which US states and territories had the most orbital space launches in all space history?

I mean launches that put something into orbit.


2 Answers 2


Using Jonathan's list of orbital launches, which is pretty widely considered to be the best source for such information. I'm looking at attempts, not successes, so take that in to account. I'm also including deep space launches, as they were usually in orbit for a short period of time before going to deep space.

  • Cape Canaveral- 789
  • Kennedy Space Center- 178
  • Vandenberg- 289
  • Vandenberg South- 348
  • Point Arguello- 44
  • MARS- 20
  • Kodiak- 4 (Including Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska)
  • Kwajalein Atoll- 5
  • Wallops Island- 40

Also of some note is the Pegasus launches. These are airborne, so they don't follow the normal parameters, but I'm going to count then from where the plane took off.

  • Edwards- 5
  • Cape Canaveral- 6
  • Vandenberg- 21
  • Kwajalein Atoll- 4
  • Wallops Island- 6

So let's then add these up by state!

  • California- 707 (Edwards, Vandenberg, Point Arguello)
  • Florida- 973 (Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center)
  • Virginia- 66 (Wallops Island + MARS)
  • Alaska- 4
  • Marshal Islands (Not a state, but...) - 9 (Kwajalein)

So it seems the order, including US controlled regions that aren't states, is Florida, California, Virginia, Marshal Islands, and Alaska. I'm sure the statistics for successful launches will preserve that order.

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    $\begingroup$ Those aren't related really. But the bottom line is, they had the space to build a space port from early on, with good ocean facing land. Other areas didn't have the ability to clear so much space. Texas is much more challenging because of the need to avoid islands around the Caribbean sea. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, there's a fairly narrow corridor out of TX that doesn't fly over Mexico, Cuba, and other Caribbean islands (not to mention about fifty bajillion drilling rigs in the Gulf). You'd have to do a dogleg maneuver to get into most orbits. SpaceX will launch orbital missions from TX within the next year or so, but nothing's flown out of here yet. $\endgroup$
    – John Bode
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto I also used the JSR database but I count almost twice as many orbital launches for California. Can you post your list of California launches, or see my list of results by using my SQL interface described here and running this query: select * from launch join site on launch.site_id = site.site_id where launch_category in ('deep space', 'orbital') and (site_full_name like '%Vandenberg%' or site_full_name like '%Point Arguello%') order by launch_date; $\endgroup$
    – Jon Heller
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ I missed Point Arguello. Too many names... Will add those in, and see if I missed anything else. It also seems I missed Vandenberg South, which is a different launch site... I've now included all of those, so see if my numbers match yours. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto Our numbers match now, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Heller
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 8:20

States with no coastline to the atlantic or pacific ocean could not be used for orbital launches with a low inclination, orbits with much distance to the poles. The risk of rocket parts falling down on the ground instead into the ocean should be avoided. The trajectory of the rocket should not cross land after leaving the launch pad for the next hundreds of kilometers.

A launch to retrograde orbit is possible from California, but most orbits are prograde and need the east coast. Polar orbits are possible from the west coast too.

Only some military launches may be done far away from the coast. No insurance company would accept the risk of rocket parts falling on the ground for an affordable premium.

Launches done far away from the equator are more expensive than those close to the equator, therefore you will find very few launches from the northern states.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't really answer the question. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ California has no coast line to the Atlantic. Polar orbits don't need it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark It tells you why there are states with zero launches. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ edit looks great, thanks! btw if you ping the commenter with a reply they can come and delete their old comments right away and add an up vote too. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer adds a lot of valuable info to the accepted answer. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Jobs
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 17:40

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