A decade ago, only a handful of launch companies existed in the US; United Launch Alliance was the big dog, with SpaceX starting to nip at its heels. Since then, however, a multiplicity of new launch startups have arrived in the United States, many of which developed their own rocket engines. As a result, we are now in the golden age of rocketry, with many different startups and approaches to pushing payloads into space.
In my weekly Rocket Report newsletter, I pay attention to launch companies and state-owned enterprises around the world. But it can be difficult to measure Europe-based Arianespace against SpaceX against China’s vast state-owned launch providers. Therefore, for this list, we’re going to focus solely on commercial launch companies in the United States.
Please note this is a subjective list, although hard metrics such as total launches, tonnage to orbit, success rate, and more were all important factors in the decision. Also, the focus is on what each company accomplished in 2022, not what they might do in the future.