First Orbital Launches of Privately Developed Launch Vehicles from the Past to the Future

To qualify for this timeline, the orbital rocket had to be designed, engineered and funded by the commercial organization. The rocket must also have successfully delivered a payload to orbit.

April 5

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Orbital Sciences Pegasus

Orbital Sciences became the first company to launch a privately developed rocket into orbit, the Pegasus, on April 5, 1990.

March 3

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Orbital Sciences Taurus (Minotaur-C)

Taurus launched on March 3, 1994, from Vandenberg Air Force Base and successfully reached orbit.

September 28

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ SpaceX Falcon 1

SpaceX’s first successful launch was performed on September 28, 2008, by Falcon 1 from Omelek Island, Marshall Islands.

June 4

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ SpaceX Falcon 9

Falcon 9 Flight 1 was on June 4, 2010, from Cape Canaveral.

April 21

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Orbital Sciences Antares

First flight was on April 21, 2013 from Wallops.

January 21

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket from Mahia Launch Center in New Zealand on January 21, 2018, carrying three cubesats into low earth orbit. This was the first time that a rocket entered orbit after launching from a privately owned and operated spaceport.

February 6

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ SpaceX Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy’s successful test flight took place on February 6, 2018, from Cape Canaveral; Elon Musk’s personal Tesla roadster was put into a solar orbit.

July 25

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ i-Space Hyperbola 1

Chinese private company i-Space successfully launched its Hyperbola 1 rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and sent several small payloads into earth orbit on July 25, 2019.

November 7

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Galactic Energy Ceres-1

China’s Galactic Energy successfully launched its Ceres-1 rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center into orbit on November 7, 2020, becoming the second Chinese private company capable of launching satellites into orbit.

January 17

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit successfully achieved orbit on January 17, 2021, using their LauncherOne vehicle to deploy a payload for NASA.

November 20

Astra Space Rocket 3.3

Astra Rocket 3.3 vehicle successfully reached orbit on November 20, 2021, after launching from Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska carrying a payload for the United States Space Force.

October 1

Firefly Alpha

Alpha successfully reached orbit on October 1, 2022, after launching from Vandenburg Space Force Base.

Sources: Wikipedia and company websites

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