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Spaceports of the World

This data repository accompanies Spaceports of the World, a featured report by Research Associate Thomas G. Roberts from the CSIS Aerospace Security Project.

Since the launch of Sputnik 1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 1957, 27 spaceports around the world have been used to launch satellites to orbit. This data repository shows the cumulative launches from each spaceport from 1957 to 2018, as well as the destination orbital regime and inclination for each launch’s primary payload. Click the play button in the legend to explore the history of ground-based space launch over time. Click a spaceport to learn more about the orbital destinations of each of each primary payload launched from that facility.

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Read "Spaceports of the World"

Key Definitions

In this database and accompanying report, a spaceport is defined as a ground-based launch facility that has been used for at least one successful orbital launch. Therefore, all launches from air- or mobile sea-based platforms—including those using all variants of the air-launched Pegasus vehicle, those from the mobile sea-platform provided by Sea Launch, and those from Russian submarines in the Barents Sea—are excluded. Ground-based platforms account for approximately 99 percent of all orbital space launches to date.

This database only includes active spaceports. The term “active” describes spaceports that have both supported at least one orbital space launch over the past 10 years and have not been declared inactive by its operator. The accompanying report also includes descriptions and launch records for inactive spaceports, which have supported orbital launches in the past, but are no longer active.

Spaceports are compared using their total number of launches per year and the orbital destinations for each launch, including the orbital regime and inclination for each launch’s primary payload.

A primary payload typically has an “A” Object ID.

The term “primary payload” is defined as either the only payload onboard a particular launch or the payload labeled with the “A” Object ID in its international designator according to the Combined Space Operations Center’s (CSpOC) orbital object catalog.

Primary payloads are divided into five orbital regime categories: low Earth orbit (“LEO”), geosynchronous Earth orbit (“GEO”), medium Earth orbit (“MEO”), “Other”, and “Missing Elements.” The LEO orbital regime includes primary payloads with apogees that do not exceed 2,000 km. The GEO regime includes primary payloads with apogees and perigees that fall within 2,000 km of the geosynchronous altitude (35,786 km). For this dataset, those primary payloads with altitudes that place them between LEO and GEO are sorted into the MEO category. Primary payloads with orbital parameters that do not place them within the LEO, GEO, or MEO regimes—such as those in lunar, heliocentric, or barycentric orbit—are labeled “Other.” Those primary payloads with no initial elements included in the CSpOC catalog are labeled “Missing.”

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Orbital elements in the CSpOC catalog also include each launch’s initial orbital inclination. Although an initial orbital inclination may be indicative of a launch’s original azimuth out of its home spaceport, the inclination itself should not be confused with launch azimuth. An object launched from any spaceport—including those facing severe azimuth limitations—could have a different initial orbital inclination if it performs orbital maneuvers before the object is cataloged.

A spaceport is outlined with a blue circle if it has supported the launch of a human to orbit.

This interactive data repository is a product of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab, the in-house digital, multimedia, and design agency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Special thanks to Jacque Schrag for her work developing this tool.