Sea Launch

Artist rendition of Sea Launch satellite launching system

Sea Launch, an international joint venture company that includes Boeing Commercial Space Co., received its first order in December 1995 for the manufacture of its commercial space satellite launch systems.

A demonstration payload was launched in March 1999, and the first commercial satellite was launched in October 1999 from the self-contained, ship-based launching facility with Boeing as overall project manager. It is this easy mobility in the Pacific Ocean that promises customers the ability to achieve a particular orbit, without being forced to depend on certain dates and uncertain weather conditions.

The ship and launch platform operate from the home port in Long Beach, Calif., where the customer satellite is encapsulated in a Boeing-built fairing/adapter. The satellite is moved to the ship, where it is mated to the three-stage rocket, which then is moved to the launch platform for transportation to the launch site, where it is moved into upright position. The rocket is automatically fueled and launched as engineers and customers control events from the nearby command ship.

Sea Launch page

Specifications
First launch:
  • March 27, 1999 (demonstration payload)
  • Oct. 9, 1999 (commercial payload)
Classification: Commercial satellite delivery system
Diameter: 14 feet (rocket)
Length:
  • Rocket: 200 feet
  • Ship: 600 feet
  • Platform: 436 feet
Width:
  • Ship: 106 feet
  • Platform: 220 feet
Payload: Up to 11,000 pounds
Propulsion: 1.6 million-pound-thrust first-stage RD-171 Zenit rocket motor
Accommodation:
  • Ship: 240 crew and customers
  • Platform: 68 crew and customers