Tag Archives: S7

Russian company S7 says it will launch in three years

The Russian airline company S7 that now owns Sea Launch said today that it will launch a new rocket in three years.

The first rocket the company S7 Space is working on at the moment may take place in three years from now, the company’s chief, Sergey Sopov, told TASS in an interview, adding that the launch would be used for flight-testing a cargo spacecraft.

S7 Space is working on its own rocket on the basis of a sketch design of the Soyuz-5 launch vehicle being created by the space rocket corporation Energia.

“When we launch our new rocket for the first time, approximately in three years from now, we also plan to flight-test a cargo spacecraft. Roscosmos might order six space launches from us, thus keeping busy both its own enterprises and S7 Space,” Sopov said.

S7 originally was reworking the Sea Launch rocket so that it was built entirely in Russia, and had said it would resume flights by 2019 with twelve scheduled through 2022. Now it appears they have been hired by Roscosmos to build an entirely new launch vehicle and cargo freighter, in imitation of the U.S. approach to have private companies build its space rockets and craft.

Regardless, this is not encouraging. It indicates more delays, and it also suggests that S7 is not really in control of its future but has to take orders from Roscosmos.

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Sea Launch will assemble rockets in U.S.

Capitalism in space: S7, the Russian company that now owns Sea Launch, announced today that it plans to assemble its rockets in United States.

This means the dock for the floating launch platform will remain in California. The article also indicates that S7 will continue to use Ukrainian Zenit rockets, which the platform was designed for, despite the desire of the Russian government to cut off all dependence on Ukrainian technology. There is also this tidbit:

The S7 company, which is about to resume the Sea Launch program, has enough clients, S7 Group co-owner and chair of the board of directors Natalia Filyova told the press. “We have [launch] orders, there is a long line [of clients], and we offer a good price. We are expecting revenue, but this will not happen right away. We will be investing heavily but we realize that we will make money,” Filyova said.

No details of the clients or the launch schedule were announced, however, so I remain skeptical. Meanwhile, Roscosmos announced today that it is negotiating with Boeing for future space tourism flights. This second story is directly related to Sea Launch, but you would only know this if you read Behind the Black. To pay off Boeing, which used to be a half partner in Sea Launch and was owed $320 million by the Russians, Roscosmos gave Boeing an unspecified number of seats on future Soyuz capsules to sell to others. Two of those seats were sold to NASA.

These new negotiations probably are an effort to arrange further sales for Boeing to help it get its money back. Boeing’s lawsuit for that money has placed a lien on the Sea Launch platform, and until its concerns are satisfied, S7 really can’t begin operations.

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Update on Russia’s troubled Sea Launch

Link here. It appears that the launch platform faces numerous additional obstacles before it can become operational again, including complex political maneuvering withing Russia and with Ukraine.

Yuzhmash officials [in Ukraine] gave their Russian counterparts at the S7 Group a list of components which are no longer available for the Zenit [rocket]. One of the most important items on the list is the ignition systems produced in the Lugansk region which has been taken over by pro-Russian rebels and remains practically cut off from the rest of Ukraine. The igniters burning black powder are used to initiate small solid-propellant motors which generate reverse thrust to facilitate the safe separation of the first and second stages during the ascent of the Zenit rocket to orbit.

According to industry sources, the S7 company has been so far unable to secure the delivery of Russian equivalents of the necessary hardware and materials, probably due to lack of permissions from Moscow. Instead, the S7 Group asked KB Yuzhnoe to organize the production of missing components in Ukraine. However, in the case of black powder, launching its production in Ukraine would not make economic sense due to lack of other applications beyond the very small amount required for the ignition systems, one source said.

Some observers question whether the S7 company has a real motivation to see the Sea Launch venture through because the airline with no prior experience in the space launch business ended up with the Sea Launch assets in its lap likely under pressure from the Kremlin. [emphasis mine]

S7 has also proposed using the Sea Launch platform to launch Russia’s next generation unmanned freighter, but this faces numerous technical issues. Regardless, the highlighted sentence above indicates how much the Russian government and the top-down Russian approach to everything interferes with efficient operations. It suggests that S7 didn’t buy into Sea Launch because it thought it could make money on it, but because of political pressure. Such pressure does not produce effective and profitable companies.

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S7 announces plans to resume launches on Sea Launch

Capitalism in space: The Russian private airline company S7 announced today that it plans to resume launches of the Ukrainian Zenit rocket on its Sea Launch platform, and will continue those launches through 2023.

The article is somewhat lacking in details, since it does not say when they plan to start launches, or how many launch contracts they have obtained.

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More political problems for the private Russian company taking over Sea Launch

Link here. The Russian airline company S7 wants to resume use of the Ukrainian Zenit rockets on the Sea Launch platform. They also want to fly that rocket several times from Baikonur. The problems have been getting Russia and Ukraine to work together.

Despite good progress on the engineering front of the Angosat-1 mission, political problems continued hampering the preparations of the Russian-Ukrainian launch. As of the end of June 2017, the planned liftoff for Angosat-1 slipped to October 21, however, even that date was considered optimistic within the industry. At the time, the Ukrainian team, which had to perform a scheduled maintenance on the Zenit rocket, was still waiting for permission to travel to Baikonur from the Ukrainian authorities.

Earlier, there were disputes from Russia that delayed work.

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Sea Launch deal finalized?

The competition heats up? Two articles today in the Russia press suggest that either their settlement deal with Boeing over bankrupt Sea Launch is either on the verge of signing or the Russians are trying to pressure Boeing to an agreement by use of the press.

The first article says that a final agreement is about to be signed, but provides no date or indication from Boeing that they have agreed to terms. The second announces that the private Russian company that is acquiring Sea Launch from the Russian government to compete in the commercial launch market has been given a launch license by the Russian government, and will launch its first rocket from Baikonur later this year, using the Ukrainian Zenit-M rocket that was designed to fly from the Sea Launch floating platform. .This launch is intended as a test flight prior to restarting launches from the Sea Launch platform itself.

The complexity of this Sea Launch situation boggles my mind. Russia has sold Sea Launch to a private Russian airline company, S7, which will use a Ukrainian rocket to launch satellites from the Sea Launch platform. Before that can happen however Russia has to settle its dispute with Boeing, which won a $300+ million settlement in court over the breakup of their Sea Launch partnership. That settlement reportedly includes free passenger seats on Soyuz flights to ISS, which Boeing is reportedly offering to sell to NASA, which might need them. Meanwhile, Russia does not seem to have a problem with a Russian company using a Ukrainian rocket, even though Russia itself has completely banned the use of Ukrainian equipment on any of its own space rockets or capsules.

The business of commercial space sometimes amazes me.

Posted in the airport terminal in Belize City. We are waiting for everyone to arrive to take a van together to our resort, Maya Mountain Lodge.

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