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Russia to build SpaceX rival rocket

April 28, 2017

By Chris Forrester

According to report from Russian news site ‘Sputnik’, Russia is to build a new mid-range rocket to directly compete with SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket system.

“RSC Energia proposes the development of a new medium-class launch vehicle for launches from Baikonur and Vostochny cosmodromes, as well as from the Sea Launch,” the company’s General Director Vladimir Solntsev said, according to the Sputnik report.

“The development of a preliminary design [of the rocket] is under way. The new launch vehicle will be well suited for launches from the Sea Launch, and, of course, it will be competitive with the US-made Falcon rocket,” Solntsev added.

Perhaps coincidentally, RSC Energia also stated April 26 that it had reached a financial settlement with Boeing over a long-standing squabble over debt incurred by RSC Energia in the Sea Launch floating rocket launch platform.

“The [RSC Energia/Boeing] settlement came into effect on February 22nd, and a joint claim was made by Boeing and RSC Energia on March 16th. The California court made a final decision to end this litigation. The issue is now closed forever,” Solntsev told the RIA Novosti newspaper. Sea Launch was formed in 1995 as a consortium of four companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, and was managed by Boeing.

In 2009 Sea Launch Co, the provider of the Sea Launch service, filed for bankruptcy, and in 2013 Boeing filed a lawsuit claiming that RSC Energia and two other contractors (PO Yuzhnoye and KB Yuzhnoye) failed to reimburse Boeing for over $350 million paid to third-party creditors.

On May 12th 2016, the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favour of Boeing, stating that Energia owed Boeing more than $320 million plus legal fees.

Solntsev said both parties had to overcome numerous hurdles during the settlement negotiations but finally managed to reach a mutual compromise, and that the deal between Energia and Boeing will now allow the companies to engage in a number of joint ventures. “The details of these negotiations remain a commercial secret; what matters is that the partners were able to break the deadlock. We’re now discussing ongoing and ambitious future joint projects, from trips to ISS to deep space flights, which would’ve been impossible without a settlement,” he added.

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