1) Twenty-Story Sea-Going Platform Cruises Into Long Beach Home Port; First Launch Anticipation Grows
October 4, 1998 2:05 PM EDT
LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 4, 1998--An immense ocean-going
launch platform arrived at Sea Launch Home Port today, docking next to
another one-of-a-kind vessel as anticipation builds for the first-ever
firing of a commercial satellite into orbit from a platform at sea.
The Odyssey, a 20-story converted oil-drilling rig, arrived at the Port of
Long Beach amid cheers and eased itself next to its sister ship, Sea Launch
Commander. The 667-foot-long Commander, a mission-control center and
floating rocket assembly plant, carried the first two Sea Launch rockets
into Home Port on July 13.
"Bringing the Odyssey and Commander together for the first time closes a
critical chapter in our mission of providing an affordable and reliable
sea-based launch service, but it is merely a prologue to the work ahead as
we integrate the various systems and prepare for the initial launch," said
Allen B. Ashby, president and general manager of the international Sea
"Building these two unique vessels and bringing them to our operations
base in Long Beach, along with the launch vehicles, represents a tremendous
undertaking by thousands of dedicated professionals."
The Odyssey is bigger than any building in Long Beach. It measures 436
feet long, 220 feet wide and -- from the waterline to the bridge -- about
213 feet tall.
That's longer than a football field and taller than a 20-story skyscraper.
It cruises at 12 knots on pontoons each as big as a Trident submarine. With
a displacement of about 46,000 tons, it is among the largest
semi-submersible structures in the world.
Transformed from a North Sea oil-drilling platform, the Odyssey has
special equipment that makes it a floating launch complex. Features
-- An environmentally controlled hangar for transportation of the
rocket to the launch site.
-- An erector system that carries the rocket on rails from the
hangar to the upright launch position.
-- Thrusters that precisely position the vessel automatically during
-- A communications system that allows remote control of the
platform from the command ship during launches.
-- Accommodations for up to 68 people.
The Odyssey was modified by The Kvaerner Corp., a member of the
Sea Launch partnership, at its shipyard in Stavanger, Norway. After
being fitted with 3,000 tons of rocket-handling equipment, it left a
Russian shipyard on June 20 and traveled to Norway, the Suez Canal and
Singapore, taking on additional equipment along the way.
The launch site is near Christmas Island, about 1,400 miles
southeast of Hawaii. From that location, the launch vehicle follows
the shortest possible route to orbit -- about 26,000 miles away -- and
takes greatest advantage of the earth's rotational forces, thereby
offering what Sea Launch considers the most cost-effective launch
The first launch is scheduled for the first quarter of 1999.
Before departing for the launch site, the satellite will be mated with
the launch vehicle aboard the Sea Launch Commander and transferred to
the Odyssey. Once the two vessels are at the launch site, they will be
linked by a gangway and the Odyssey crew will leave that vessel to
board the command ship.
After the Odyssey is stabilized by partial submersion, the space
vehicle will be erected, fueled and launched via remote control from
the Sea Launch Commander, about three miles away.
Sea Launch has contracts for 18 launches -- 13 with Hughes Spaces
and Communications Company of Los Angeles, and five with Loral Space
Systems of Palo Alto, Calif.
The four Sea Launch partners are:
-- Boeing Commercial Space Company of Seattle. Responsible for
construction of the home port, customer marketing and support,
payload accommodations, spacecraft integration and mission
-- RSC-Energia of Moscow. Responsible for Block DM upper stage
rocket, launch vehicle integration, automated launch processing
equipment and launch support.
-- Kvaerner, based in London. Responsible for the two unique vessels
and for all maritime operations.
-- KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Responsible
for the Zenit rocket providing the first two stages of the
2) First Commercial Launch by Sea Launch Delayed
October 12, 1998 9:45 PM EDT
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Sea Launch, the satellite launch venture led by Boeing
Co., has delayed its first commercial launch until sometime after March
1999, company officials said Monday.
Instead the project's initial launch in March will be a demonstration
payload with the same size and weight as a Hughes Space and Communications
HS 702 satellite, Sea Launch President Allen Ashby said in a statement.
``While Sea Launch has revised its payload for the first launch, the
company is committed to meeting the requirements of its customers,'' he
The change was disclosed shortly after PanAmSat Corp announced a contract
for two new satellite launches with Europe's Arianespace, including a
mission that will handle the payload that was scheduled for Sea Launch, a
Boeing spokeswoman said.
Sea Launch, which initially had planned its first commercial launch for
November 1998, remains on track for its current schedule of two launches in
1999, the spokeswoman said. The program has firm commitments to launch 18
satellites through 2004, including 13 for Hughes.
Work on the Sea Launch was halted over the summer by State Department
concerns that Boeing had violated U.S. arms control laws by transferring
military technology to its commercial partners in Russia and Ukraine.
Although the technology was not considered sensitive, Boeing acknowledged
failing to comply with its federal license and agreed to pay a record $10
Work on the project has resumed, and Ashby said the converted oil platform
that will be used as the project's mobile, floating launch pad has arrived
from Russia at the Sea Launch home port in Long Beach, Calif.
Boeing holds a 40 percent stake in Sea Launch, with the remainder held by
RSC-Energia of Moscow, KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine and Kvaerner
Maritime of Norway.