70 years of spaceflight

Responsive image
Responsive image
- Each point represents a launch
- The color indicates the manufacturing country
- The position indicates the location of the launch site
- The lines indicate the origin of the launch service provider

Goals

Space travel has long since ceased to be the focus of general attention. One reason for this is the sharp decline in launches since the end of the Cold War. It was important to me to show with this chart how space travel has been experiencing a new boom for over the past few years. According to the planned launches, 2020 should be the year with the most launches ever. In contrast to the past, Russia and America are no longer solely responsible for this quantity. In 2018, China has sent 39 rockets into orbit, taking over global leadership for the first time. In addition, many smaller nations (e.g. Iran) have their own space program now. I also wanted to show that global collaboration has increased significantly since the moon landing. It is not unusual today for a rocket to be built in one country and launches in another with a launch service provider originating from a third one.

Execution

On Wikipedia Timeline of spaceflight extensive data on this topic is available in tabular form. This provided the basis for the visualization. Responsive image
Regular expressions were used to convert the html tables into JSON objects and then generate the graphics with JavaScript. Responsive image
The biggest challenge was to organize the large number of launches (6,968) with their detailed and diverse data. This was achieved by selecting only data that contributes to the desired statement and by identifying derived data (e.g. starts per year) rather than presenting them separately. Responsive image

Early sketches

Responsive image The height of each shapes shows global number of launches per year. The edges show the number of launches for individual countries.
Responsive image The first attempt to show the manufacturing and launch countries separately by connection lines (shape shows rocket model)
Responsive image Responsive image Responsive image Responsive image First tests to process the data with JavaScript. Each line corresponds to one year. The colors indicate the manufacturing country.
Responsive image The Fibonacci pattern was used to achieve a grouping based on the launch country.