SES has entered into a “framework understanding” with Sea Launch for possible future launches of SES satellites. SES has to date by and large supported the French Arianespace or Russian Proton launch systems for placing its satellites into orbit. Its one experience with the floating ‘Sea Launch’ platform ended up in total catastrophe when the (then) SES New Skies NSS-8 satellite was lost on January 30th 2007 when the rocket exploded in a massive fireball on the launch platform.
The failure helped put Sea Launch into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from which it emerged last October. The majority owner of Sea Launch is now Energia Overseas Corp., a Russian rocket manufacturer.
The SES agreement sees Sea Launch agree to provide SES with detailed technical information regarding its launch vehicle system on a regular basis. In turn, SES has agreed – based on the success of upcoming launch missions already on the Sea Launch manifest – to consider Sea Launch as an SES recognized provider for future launch missions.
SES notes that Sea Launch has put in place “an exceptional business team and a new credible structure backed by its affiliate, Energia Logistics Ltd, both key steps to moving its business forward.” Romain Bausch, president of SES, said: “We congratulate Sea Launch on their return to the launch service business, and we look forward to successful launches of SES satellites in the future.”