CASE 35 A Sea Launch Recovery?
Sea Launch engineers say the three-week round-trip journey
across the Paciﬁc Ocean is the most rewarding part of their jobs.
The cruise is the culmination of nearly two months of work preparing the rocket, payload, and launch teams for the mission.
Prior to operations at Home Port, about 18 months goes into the
planning, ﬂight design, and logistics. “It’s really nice to know
most of the reviews are over and we’re ﬁnally ready to launch,”
said Bill Rujevcan, mission director for the company’s next
More than 300 people take the trip to the company’s equatorial
launch site about 1,400 miles south of Hawaii. The crew includes
workers ...view middle of the document...
Sea Launch Home Port is a decommissioned U.S. Navy facility on the tip of a manmade peninsula at the Port of Long Beach.
The Sea Launch buildings are all left over from the Navy except
for the Payload Processing Facility, which the company built in
the late 1990s. The company’s pier is home to two one-of-a-kind
vessels—the Sea Launch Commander and the Odyssey launch
platform. The Sea Launch Commander carries about 240 people,
ranging from rocket technicians and corporate leaders to chefs and
helicopter pilots. The Commander houses a state-of-the-art launch
control center divided between two sections designed for Ukrainian and Russian engineers and American engineers and managers. The cavernous rocket assembly and checkout hall is located
on the command ship’s lower deck and stretches nearly the entire
length of the vessel. The facility is capable of supporting two
simultaneous launch campaigns using staging and integration
compartments and a fueling cell. Giant cranes inside the high bays
lift rocket stages, which sits on Russian-gauge rails on the ﬂoor
integration room ﬂoor. The rocket’s ground support equipment
inside the Sea Launch Commander is virtually identical to
hardware used for Zenit launches at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan, according to Sea Launch ofﬁcials.
The Sea Launch Commander was specially constructed for Sea
Launch at a Scotland shipyard by the maritime unit of Kvaerner,
then a leading Norwegian industrial company. Measuring 656 feet
long and 105 feet wide, the command ship was outﬁtted with more
than 600 tons of rocket support equipment in Russia before sailing
to Long Beach in 1998. The massive ship’s crew quarters are home
to Sea Launch’s international employees during their stay in the
The Sea Launch Commander and the
Odyssey platform are seen here docked at
Credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight Now
8/27/10 2:14 PM
Cases 3 Assessing Global Market Opportunities
As Ukrainian and Russian engineers complete work to ready the
Zenit rocket, technicians inside Sea Launch’s Payload Processing Facility are busy preparing the booster’s satellite payload down the road
from the docked vessels. When both groups are ready, the spacecraft
is transported about 1,000 feet and loaded into the Sea Launch Commander’s ﬁnal assembly hall on the roll-on, roll-off vessel. Already
enclosed in the payload fairing, the satellite is attached to the Zenit3SL upper stage to complete the rocket’s construction.
EchoStar 11, the payload for Sea Launch’s mission this month,
was rolled from the clean room to the command ship hangar June 25.
The 12,150-pound satellite was bolted to the Block DM-SL upper
stage a day later. The rocket was next moved to the Odyssey Launch
Platform. The launcher, which weighs about 100,000 pounds without propellant, is transferred in a high-precision operation more
200 feet above the waters of Long Beach Harbor....