Russia Readies Sea Launch Space Service
Russian aviation company S7 Group plans to acquire the assets of Sea Launch, a sea-borne satellite launching system, with the hopes of resuming launches in about two years.
Sea Launch is a floating facility established to provide launch services to deliver various spacecraft to near-earth orbit using a mobile ocean-based launch platform. The launch site is in the equatorial Pacific, which provides the best possible launch conditions due to the effective harnessing of the Earth's rotation. The first launch from the platform was made in 1999.
Sea Launch Company was established in 1995 by U.S. Boeing, Russia’s RKK Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the Norwegian shipyard Kvaerner (now Aker Solutions), the Ukrainian Yuzhnoye design bureau and Yuzhmash production association. However, Sea Launch declared its bankruptcy in 2009, and in 2010 the Russian enterprise assumed the leading role in the project. The company suspended operation of the launch system in 2014.
The acquisition by S7 Group will include the Sea Launch Commander vessel, the Odyssey Launch Platform, with the launch support equipment, ground support equipment at the home port facility in Long Beach, California, and the Sea Launch trademark. The value of the deal is about $150 million.
“We plan to de-mothball the complex and restart space launches 18 months after the deal approvals are obtained, which is anticipated to be late 2018,” said Vladislav Filev, CEO of S7 Group. He says the group expects to be able to perform up to 70 launches within 15 years without making any major investments in upgrades to the Sea Launch complex.
“The acquisition of the Sea Launch is a 'ticket' for us to enter the space industry. Space infrastructure is developing rapidly. In our view, it is a very exciting area of business, with good long-term prospects,” said Filеv.
The deal is to be closed within six months, the timeline needed to obtain the necessary approvals of the relevant U.S. authorities and sign a number of agreements that are part of the deal. The transaction is subject to approvals from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
S7 Group also signed a cooperation agreement with RSC Energia to continue joint efforts to resume the operation of the Sea Launch complex. RSC Energia will provide S7 Group with all required engineering support and assistance in preparing launches and in system integration.
Cooperation between S7 Group and RSC Energia will not be limited to launch services and the Sea Launch project; the cooperation agreement also provides for partnering in developing space-based transportation infrastructure.