Satellites have been around for a while. More precisely, since 1958, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 to start the Space Race. As of March 2022, 7,220 satellites were orbiting Earth, many launched decades ago.
With the advancements in spacecraft technology, the world is witnessing an unprecedented surge in satellites. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs database, out of all the spacecraft that remain in space, between 1958 and 2012, there have never been more than 78 launches in a single year. In 2013, we crossed 100 launches for the first time, and in 2021 that stat grew to 1,722.
Most of the explosion in satellite numbers can be credited to Starlink. The company accounts for 27.8% of all spacecraft in orbit since 1958, and 52.6% of all United States launches.
Based on the UN’s database, 6GWorld brings an overview by country and year to help you navigate the numbers and understand how the industry is evolving – and who is leading the way.
Select a country from the dropdown list or click on the map to see how many satellites that nation has launched and are still in orbit. For the second graph, select a year in the slider and learn which countries launched more spacecraft that remain in space up to today.
The data was gathered from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs database in March 2022. Satellites registered as owned by regions (e.g. European Union) or entities (e.g. ESA) were not considered in the final graphs. Launches by the Soviet Union are credited to Russia on the map. The Soviet Union was dissolved on December 26, 1991.
Featured image by PIRO4D/Pixabay
Journalist since eight years old, when I would read the newspaper out loud and pretend it was a radio show. Based in São Paulo, I have worked for Brazilian websites as reporter and editor before joining 6GWorld