Ten years ago this week, Sea Launch succeeded in launching one of the most highly instrumented test missions ever flown. On March 27, 1999, DemoSat executed a precisely controlled flight profile that demonstrated the new sea-based concept, its Zenit-3SL launch vehicle performance and the entire system infrastructure.
Sea Launch’s inaugural mission was the culmination of four years of intense development work performed by aerospace and marine professionals throughout the world. The spacecraft was designed to simulate the mass properties of a 4,500 kg (9,921 lb.) commercial satellite. Since then, Sea Launch’s achievements include incremental performance enhancements to 6,160 kg (13,580 lb.), reliable quality assurance procedures and streamlined processing operations.
This week, the Sea Launch team is preparing for its 30th launch from the equator, in April. With 27 successful missions, accommodating all western spacecraft manufacturers and a history of problem-solving accomplishments, the now seasoned Sea Launch team and its system has matured as one of the world’s three major launch providers.
“Some observers suggested that the DemoSat feat was just that – a demonstration of international partners taking a technological risk,” said Kjell Karlsen, president and general manager of Sea Launch. “Now, ten years later, we are planning our 30th launch, competing on the international marketplace and still pushing the envelope. We’re very proud of our team and we are taking this opportunity to look back and appreciate what we’ve accomplished, and to thank our customers – past, present and future – as we embark on the next ten years.”
The inaugural launch in 1999 – and the ten years that have followed – reflect the cooperative efforts of the world’s most internationally integrated launch team, comprised of Boeing (U.S.), RSC Energia (Russia), SDO Yushnoye / PO Yuzhmash (Ukraine) and Aker ASA (Norway). This committed and experienced partnership demonstrates the tremendous feats that can be achieved through global cooperation, serving a global market.