The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
Russian actions in Ukraine have also complicated the return to regular activity of Sea Launch AG of Switzerland, a majority Russian-owned company which launches large commercial telecom satellites atop the Russian-Ukrainian Zenit 3SL rocket from a platform in international waters in the Pacific.
In September, Sea Launch CEO Sergey Gugkaev said tensions between Russia and Ukraine had the company “closely watching what is going on because we have production sites in both countries.” But he noted a May mission that lifted an Airbus-built communications satellite to geosynchronous orbit for Paris-based fleet operator Eutelsat went smoothly. “For the time being, we are not affected by these tensions.”
In December, however, Moscow signaled plans to take over the Sea Launch program and use it to collaborate with Brazil or other so-called BRICS countries, an acronym for five major emerging national economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“A very interesting dialogue on the level of experts is taking shape,” said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin—a Kremlin insider who has been the target of U.S. Treasury Department sanctions—in a Dec. 24 interview on the Rossiya 24 news channel.
“The idea of joint launches may be generated in the BRIC format or in bilateral relations with Brazil,” he said, noting that the Sea Launch floating pad built specifically for the Zenit rocket is based in California.
“Now, after the latest events in Ukraine, one may forget about industrial production [there], let alone high-tech manufacturing. It’s dead,” he said, citing the Sea Launch platform’s proximity to the U.S. coast near Los Angeles. “Naturally we will take it away for our own use.”