The annual number of Chinese space rocket launches more than quadrupled over a decade to a record-high 62 last year, as President Xi Jinping aims to make the country a space power, according to a survey by Japan's Cabinet Office.
Globally, a total of 177 space rockets were launched in 2022, with the United States accounting for 83, returning to the top spot. The U.S. figure included 61 successful launches by SpaceX, founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk, the survey showed.
In 2013, when 77 rockets were launched worldwide, China ranked third after Russia and the United States with 14. China rose to the No. 1 position in 2018 and returned to the top spot in 2021 after being overtaken by the United States the previous year.
China's space program, led by its military, has succeeded in the first-ever landing of a probe on the far side of the Moon and completed its own space station.
Last year, the United States and China together accounted for about 80 percent of space rocket launches worldwide, while Japan launched none.
SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has reduced the cost of rocket launches.
A Cabinet Office official said the number of U.S. rocket launches increased last year partly because some governments and companies that had asked Russia to launch satellites turned to the United States following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.