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Sea Launch to be, in effect, nationalised by Russia?

Grey Havoc

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http://aviationweek.com/space/person-year-notorious-mr-putin

[snip]
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.”
[snip]
 

ouroboros

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Isn't this all bluster anyways, due to company problems? Last I read, both ships were going into mothball status until late 2016 because they don't even have a customer lined up before then, and the ships aren't properly equipped for shore power while in port. With no shore power, they are burning diesel all day long, and so the ops cost was really hurting them. They've been mothballed before, so this isn't new for them, but until 2016 at least they aren't going to see any action, assuming they don't undergo a shore power refit.

The practical issue is if they try to sail the ships to Russia and then seize them for nationalization, since that's the actual useful part. ITAR restrictions aside, sailing under the pretense of refit would be a good way to retrieve them. Russia nationalizing them, then refitting from Zenit to Angara might be interesting to support Angara comercialization, but then that doesn't entirely jive with the Brazil angle. Brazil has the Alcantara launch complex, which currently is supposed to have a half completed launch site for a new joint brazil-ukranian (mostly ukranian) rocket. But last I read on that was they were begging for money to complete the site and pay for the first test launch. If Russia was serious, I suppose they could step in and finish the site for Angara/Soyuz similar to the joint work they did for Soyuz at French Giana, but then that means the Sea Launch nationalization is meant to hedge their bets for commercial launch?
 

Grey Havoc

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http://spacenews.com/china-eyes-purchase-of-sea-launch-assets/

Curiouser and curiouser.
 

ouroboros

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If russia needs the hard cash for their space industry realignment, then selling off their interests in SeaLaunch is comparatively easy. Much of the TIAR issues could be circumvented by an agreement to strip most of the zenit related gear and telemetry systems for scrap (or sell back to ukraine/russia). Though then you are effectively left with a semisub ship with a flame duct, and a Ro-Ro with large antennas. Which china could easily build on their own. If they wanted to keep the zenit gear though then it gets ugly. But having access to zenit hardware must have some technology transfer merits.The non-ITAR launch market is non-trivial now too, to the point that having an equatorial launch asset may be a strategic move.

Are Long March-5 based derivatives even feasible for a SeaLaunch retrofit?
 

sferrin

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ouroboros said:
If russia needs the hard cash for their space industry realignment, then selling off their interests in SeaLaunch is comparatively easy. Much of the TIAR issues could be circumvented by an agreement to strip most of the zenit related gear and telemetry systems for scrap (or sell back to ukraine/russia). Though then you are effectively left with a semisub ship with a flame duct, and a Ro-Ro with large antennas. Which china could easily build on their own.
True, but once they spent a paltry $20 million on a rusting hulk and now they have a shiny new aircraft carrier.
 

NeilChapman

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ouroboros said:
Isn't this all bluster anyways, due to company problems? Last I read, both ships were going into mothball status until late 2016 because they don't even have a customer lined up before then, and the ships aren't properly equipped for shore power while in port. With no shore power, they are burning diesel all day long, and so the ops cost was really hurting them. They've been mothballed before, so this isn't new for them, but until 2016 at least they aren't going to see any action, assuming they don't undergo a shore power refit.

The practical issue is if they try to sail the ships to Russia and then seize them for nationalization, since that's the actual useful part. ITAR restrictions aside, sailing under the pretense of refit would be a good way to retrieve them. Russia nationalizing them, then refitting from Zenit to Angara might be interesting to support Angara comercialization, but then that doesn't entirely jive with the Brazil angle. Brazil has the Alcantara launch complex, which currently is supposed to have a half completed launch site for a new joint brazil-ukranian (mostly ukranian) rocket. But last I read on that was they were begging for money to complete the site and pay for the first test launch. If Russia was serious, I suppose they could step in and finish the site for Angara/Soyuz similar to the joint work they did for Soyuz at French Giana, but then that means the Sea Launch nationalization is meant to hedge their bets for commercial launch?
Where, in international waters, would these assets likely be deployed if purchased by China?
 

ouroboros

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The rumor mill indicates Vladislav Filev, some russian equivalent of Richard Branson, is the buyer. But, Boeing put in an injunction on the assets, which means they think somebody might try to run off with the ships before paying Boeing what it's owed...


Whoever get the assets might try to fly again from the christmas islands, but they might need other range asset/tracking ships.
 

sferrin

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ouroboros said:
The rumor mill indicates Vladislav Filev, some russian equivalent of Richard Branson, is the buyer. But, Boeing put in an injunction on the assets, which means they think somebody might try to run off with the ships before paying Boeing what it's owed...
With good reason. Once it was out of port the chance of Boeing squeezing $300 million out of either Russia or China is Z-E-R-O.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Russian_Carrier_Rocket_for_Sea_Launches_Will_Replace_Ukraines_Zenit_999.html
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-27/russian-airline-owner-moves-to-challenge-musk-bezos-in-space
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/RSC_Energia_Boeing_Hammer_Out_a_Deal_on_Sea_Launch_Project_999.html
 

Grey Havoc

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Via Ars Technica:

EDIT:
And from back in June;
 
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