Sea Launch Project

The Purpose of the Sea Launch System

The Sea Launch rocket and space system is designed for launching various-purpose spacecraft into low Earth orbits, including high circular orbits, elliptical orbits, without any constraints on the orbital inclination, into geostationary orbit and escape trajectories. These launches are carried out from an off-shore platform using integrated launch vehicle Zenit-3SL with upper stage Block DM-SL. The launch support involves the use of relay satellites. The following operations are performed during launches: transportation, storage, pre-launch processing of the launch vehicle and the payload, launches and mission control.

The key advantages of the Sea Launch system over ground launch sites are as follows:

Ability to launch directly from the equator, which allows to make maximal use of the Earth's rotation, thus increasing the upmass capability of launchers during launches of spacecraft to geostationary orbit, and, accordingly, reducing unit costs of their delivery to the target orbit.

Ability to launch with any azimuth from open sea, thus making launches free of political risks, simplifying international cooperation during spacecraft launches, as well as making unnecessary any reservation of tracts of land for both the launch site with its safe area, and areas where the jettisoned rocket stages and payload fairing halves impact on the ground.

Compactness, no need to have a well-developed ground infrastructure and its associated social support (roads, power, hotels, schools, hospitals, etc.), which radically reduces the numbers of personnel participating in the work, and, therefore, the cost of operation.

Ability to process spacecraft for launch on the US territory (Long Beach, CA), virtually in an "urban" environment, not far from assembly shops of Hughes Space & Communications and Space System/Loral, the major commercial spacecraft manufacturers outside Russia (up to 80% of the total numbers built in the world).


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