Rockets of Today

— the modern era, 2009-present —

This is the period where big-budget governmental rockets fade into the background, and for-profit corporations become the leaders in advancing spaceflight. SpaceX brought the revolutionary Falcon, which first reached orbit just one year before the final flight of the Space Shuttle, and Orbital upped their game with the Antares, before being taken over by Northrop Grumman. Small startups developed small rockets: the Electron is succeeding, and the LauncherOne, maybe the Astra, and possibly the Alpha look fairly ready to do likewise, while some other ventures drop away.

With price competition now a major factor in the launch business for the first time, Russia struggles to develop a modernized replacement rocket called the Angara to cover a wide range of lift capacities, while eyeing reusability for a followup effort, trying to maintain its legacy as a space superpower despite an economy less and less able to support such extravagances. China, where both money and ambition are currently very plentiful, is revamping their Long March line with a series of advanced designs, and making big plans for how to use them. Japan modernized their small-launch capability with the cost-conscious Epsilon, the ESA did likewise with the Vega, India did the same with the SSLV, and various Chinese companies did so with multiple small rockets based on military missiles: the Kuaizhou, Kaituozhe, Long March 11, and others, while small startups like i-Space and Galactic Energy seemed to have access to the same solid fuel tech as the governmental aerospace outfits.

But before any of those got off the ground, the North Koreans and Iranians teamed up to create orbital rockets with the Safir, Unha, and Simorgh. The South Koreans answered with the Naro and the Nuri, proving that national space programs are now within reach for countries without superpower-level economies.

Back in superpower land, NASA spent many years and many billions on the bloated SLS project for the Artemis program, with no hope of any reusability or any commercial application.

Now that this section is up to sixteen rockets and growing, I am getting ready to divide it in two. The plan is to define a transitional era of revival beginning with the Safir/Unha and Falcon, followed by the true New Space boom era starting with the Electron.

— Rockets included with current filters: · Safir, Unha, Simorgh · Falcon · Vega · KSLV/Naro/Nuri · Antares · Epsilon · Chinese solids · Angara (Amur) · Long March (new) · Electron · LauncherOne · Astra · Alpha · SSLV · SLS · Neptune —