Sea Launch has suspended all operations until 2015

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Russian competition cools down: The mostly Russian-owned rocket company Sea Launch has suspended all operations until mid-2015.

I suspect that the Russian government, now in control of almost all Russian aerospace efforts, is not interested in building this company up as the rocket it uses is partly made in Ukraine and is a competitor to Russia’s new Angara rocket. Everything the Russian government has done for the past year has indicated a desire to shut down all cooperative efforts with other countries and focus everything towards all-Russian efforts.

Thus, Sea Launch dies.


One comment

  • Dick Eagleson

    The single-core version of Angara is supposed to be pad-compatible with Zenit so the likely death of Sea Launch may have other determinants.

    Sea Launch’s main selling point was its ability to support launches at any azimuth and, especially, to launch exactly on the equator, giving equatorial orbit missions a maximum free boost from Earth’s rotation. But Sea Launch requires two vessels with sizable crews which take days or weeks to position for each mission.

    Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch system, due to enter service in 2018, will be able to offer even better trajectory optimization using a single carrier vehicle with a small crew that can position itself in a matter of hours. By flying straight East as it launches its equatorial missions, the giant Stratolaunch carrier aircraft will even be able to add its own considerable cruising speed to that of the Earth’s rotation in providing a free boost margin to its payloads.

    I think the Russians are cutting what they can now while preserving the option of reactivation later, but I don’t see Sea Launch’s competitive position improving much by 2015. My guess is this is when the axe falls for good and maybe Long Beach gets two more museum ships to add to the Queen Mary, the Skorpion and the Lane Victory that already berth nearby. Add a fake Zenit – or even a real one if it can be obtained cheaply enough – and you’ve got quite a potential tourist attraction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *