Oct 4, 1998 Long Beach, CA – Arrival of Odyssey platform to Long Beach.
Space Cover 546: Sea Launch
Happy New Year 2020 to everyone.
The first Space Cover of the Week of this year and of this decade too is devoted to Sea Launch.
Sea Launch origin can be found behind the USSR dissolution in 1991. After this event, new Russia realized that main launch site, Baikonur, was situated out of its frontiers, exactly in new independent state of Kazakhstan.
This situation comes back an old idea that can be tracked in past SCOTW 537: San Marco Launch Site which is launching rockets from a platform located in the sea in front of classical launch sites on ground.
In 1993 NPO Energia (Russia) officials found an oil platform named Odyssey as a possible candidate to launch rockets after its transformation by Norwegian company Kvaerner, owner of this platform, meanwhile the ship Commander will serves as control center.
Ukrainian rockets Zenit 3SL will be chosen to be launched from this platform.
And financing, the most important part of all this idea (because Russia was at this moment in a very close bankruptcy) will be in charge of US company Boeing.
So, in 1995 Sea Launch is born based in Long Beach, CA. The new company is formed by four countries: United Stated, Boeing 40%; Russia, RKK Energia 25%; Ukraine, PO Yuzhnoe 15% and Norway, Kvaerner 5%.
From March 1999 to May 2014 were launched 36 rockets with 32 successes, 1 partial failure and just 2 complete failures.
Mar 27, 1999 Korolev – Tracking station for inaugural Sea Launch with Demosat.
Zenit is a two stage rocket able to put in GTO orbit until payloads of 13.200 pounds is manufactured in Ukraine and delivered in Long Beach. There, Boeing docks the satellites and assembly horizontally inside Commander ship.
From Long Beach, Commander ship and Odyssey platform move generally near of Kiribati coast, around the Equatorial zone in a journey of around eleven days.
Once schedule point of launching is reached, Zenit rocket is vertically positioned over Odyssey platform, ready to be launch. All this operation is followed at a certain distance from Commander ship. Launch will be tracked from engineers in Commander ship as well as from Korolev, in the surrounding suburbs of Moscow.
Jun 1, 2012 Korolev – Tracking station for Intelsat 19. This cover bears 5 kopecks Russian stamp issued in 2000 with Odyssey platform, Zenit 3SL rocket as well as flags of four countries.
However, Russia military intervention in Crimea (Ukraine) on the half of 2014 breaks the launches. Later, Boeing lawsuit Russian and Ukrainian companies for a million-dollar debts meanwhile Sea Launch is declared in creditor contest and ceased its activity.
Jan 31, 2013 Long Beach, CA – Intelsat 27 launch failed 56 seconds after liftoff by a shutdown of main rocket motor.
In 2016, Sea Launch is bought by S7 group, Siberian airline S7 parent company. No further information is supplied since then. Furthermore, future seems that Sea Lauch will be already an abandoned space program because Russia is thinking to replace Zenit Rocket for a new Soyuz-5 rocket. This change would suppose new modifications in Commander ship and Odyssey platform and, obviously, new expenses.
Although Sea Launch officially is not yet a closed space program, its final is very close.