Sea Launch Could Be Coming Back

Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)
Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)

It looks as if the moribound Sea Launch company could have a new lease on life.

Majority owner Energia has scheduled a press conference with the S7 Group on Tuesday during the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. The invitation promises a major announcement about the future of the long troubled venture.

S7 is reported to be a Russian airline company with 66 aircraft total that is based out of Novosibirsk, Russia.

Sea Launch uses a floating platform towed to the equator to launch Zenit boosters carrying communications satellites. The company’s history has been dogged by booster failures and a weak demand for its booster. It has not launched since May 2014.

Energia has been trying to sell Sea Launch for years. Efforts have been stymied by a lawsuit that Boeing brought against Energia and Ukrainian partners over their failure to reimburse more than $500 million in expenses and interest in developing the venture. Boeing previously owned 25 percent of Sea Launch.

In May, Boeing won a $322.49 million judgment against Energia and a $193.44 million judgment against KB Yuzhnoe and its production partner, Yuzhmash.

In August, a Russian media outlet reported that Boeing and Energia had reached a preliminary settlement of their dispute.

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  • Sam Moore

    Anatoly Zak reckons this is S7, the Russian airline group that was trying to buy in spring before Boeing blocked the sale. Rumour back then was the acquisition was to take it off Energiya’s hands-where it couldn’t be reimbursed-and then scrapped.

    Certainly there’s no current Russian rocket that’s a good match with the SL architecture, so hard to see it being put back into service. Sunkar could probably do it, given it’s being designed to be compatible with the Zenit pads at Baikonur, but that won’t be ready before 2024-’25 at the earliest. Very unlikely they’d maintain the SL ships for that long.

  • windbourne

    screw sea launch.
    I want to see Sea Dragon 🙂

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    A launch platform like that paired with the landing barges of SX would be a potent addition to the Falcon program.

  • passinglurker