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Sea Launch S.A.
Sea Launch command ship Sea Launch Commander

Advantages of equatorial launch site:

  • The rotational speed of the Earth is greatest at the equator, providing an extra launch "boost".
  • The need for a "plane change" to the zero degree inclination of geostationary orbit is eliminated, providing a major extra launch "boost". This allows 17.5–25% more mass to be launched to geostationary orbit than the same rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, which is at 28.5 degrees north latitude.
  • Any orbital inclinatio

    Since the launch pad platform is vacated by all engineers during the automated launch process, there were no injuries. On February 1, 2007 Sea Launch released a statement detailing its status.[38]

    It is believed that the failure was caused by a foreign object being ingested by the engine turbopump, causing the rocket to crash immediately.[39]

    On February 3, 2007, photographs of the damage were posted on internet forums.[40] The launch platform damage is mostly superficial, though blast deflectors underneath the launch platform were knocked loose and were lost when they fell into the sea.

    In March 2007, shortly after the NSS-8 launch failure, Hughes Network Systems switched the launch of SPACEWAY-3 from a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL to an Ariane 5.[41][42]

    Repairs of the launch platform were completed in September 2007.[43] The Sea Launch platform underwent repairs in Canada, docked near CFB Esquimalt, just west of Victoria, British Columbia, and departed on July 31, 2007. Both vessels returned to their home port in Long Beach, California.[44]

    During project development in 1998 Boeing was fined US$10 million by the United States Department of State for technical violations of the Arms Export Control Act in handling of missile technology while dealing with its foreign Sea Launch partners. This is the largest civil penalty of its kind, although it could have been as much as US$102 million.[45] The Sea Launch project was suspended for two months during the investigation.

    The Department of State found that between January 1994 and January 1998 Boeing illegally exported "defense articles" and "defense services", although no national security breaches were determined.[46] The violations were uncovered by Boeing's internal investigation.

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    The Department of State found that between January 1994 and January 1998 Boeing illegally exported "defense articles" and "defense services", although no national security breaches were determined.[46] The violations were uncovered by Boeing's internal investigation.

    At about the same time United States Customs Service attempted to block Sea Launch from bringing Zenit-3SL rockets (classified as missiles) into California for assembly without a munitions import licence. The matter was settled in the company's favour.[47]

    Also in 1998, 16 member states of the South Pacific Forum issued a communiqué asking the United States to suspend the project indefinitely until and unless their environmental concerns are remedied. It was mostly criticized by the island nation of Kiribati.[45]

    The project was criticized in 1997 by International Transport Workers' Federation (ITWF) for registering its sea vessels in Liberia.[45] In May 1999 Sea Launch reached an agreement with the ITWF, which allows crew members to use ITWF inspectors.

    Using existing Zenit infrastructure at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the "Land Launch" system is based on a modified version of the Sea Launch vehicle, the three-stage Zenit-3SL rocket. Land Launch's Zenit-3SLB vehicle addresses the launch needs of commercial satellites weighing up to 3.5 metric tons (3.9 short tons). The two-stage Zenit-2SLB is also available for lifting payloads up to 13 metric tons (14 short tons) to inclined low Earth orbits.

    The first launch was on April 28, 2008, when a Zenit-3SLB launched Spacecom Ltd's AMOS-3 spacecraft from LC-45/1 at Baikonur.

    Advantages of equatorial ocean-platform based launchesThe first launch was on April 28, 2008, when a Zenit-3SLB launched Spacecom Ltd's AMOS-3 spacecraft from LC-45/1 at Baikonur.

    Advantages of equatorial launch site:

    • The rotational speed of the Earth is greatest at the equator, providing an extra launch "boost".
    • The need for a "plane change" to the zero degree inclination of geostationary orbit is eliminated, providing a major extra launch "boost". This allows 17.5–25% more mass to be launched to geostationary orbit than the same rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, which is at 28.5 degrees north latitude.
    • Any orbital inclination could be reached, thus (for example) combining in one launch site the attainable inclinations of both Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg.

    Advantages of ocean-based over a conventional land-based launch platform:

    • An ocean launch reduces risks related to launching over populated areas, providing better safety to third parties.
    • Absence of range conflicts with other launch systems and a near total absence of ship or overhead air traffic that would constrain launch.

    RecognitionAdvantages of ocean-based over a conventional land-based launch platform:

    • An ocean launch reduces risks related to launching over populated areas, providing better safety to third parties.
    • Absence of range conflicts with other launch systems and a near total absence of ship or overhead air traffic that would constrain launch.

    Recognition

    Sea Launch was awarded the Space Foundation's Space Achievement Award in 2000.[48]

    Space Foundation's Space Achievement Award in 2000.[48]

    See also