Sea Launch, the floating rocket-launch business, might be moving from its Long Beach, California HQ to Russia, according to the Interfax news agency.
The plan sees Roscosmos and local airline business S7 relocating Sea Launch to the Far East.
Dmitry Rogozin, CEO of Russia’s state-owned space agency Roscosmos, told students at the Lomonosov Moscow State University: “I want us and the S7 company to implement the Sea Launch project whereby – nominally – the Soyuz-5 rocket will be loaded onto their ship in the town of Bolshoi Kamen in our Far East and we will take that ship to the equator. Then our medium rocket with the 17-tonne lift capacity will be able to remove 22-23 tonnes from the equator. Same as the Falcon 9 [rocket launch vehicle].”
Sea Launch’s main advantage is that – to date – it has launched its rockets from the Equator at a mid-Pacific location at 154 degrees West (near Kiribati), and gaining the benefit of an Equatorial launch with the advantage of heavier launch payloads.
Sea Launch has been in financial difficulties these past few years and has not been used to launch a satellite since May 2014 (when it launched Eutelsat 3B into orbit).
Its new owner – since April 2018 – is S7 AirSpace Corp. based in Nyon, Switzerland.
Rogozin added that the move would allow for a new variant of the Soyuz-5 rocket to be developed which allowed for the return to the floating launch platform for the rocket’s first stage.