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Satnews Daily
July 22nd, 2015

Chinese Interest In Sea Launch?

[SatNews] A potential acquisition has the industry keeping tabs on China and Sea Launch.

The Sea Launch port facility in Long Beach, California.

Photo is courtesy of Sea Launch.

Currently, Energia of Russia is the major owner of Sea Launch. The company ships their Zenit launch vehicle and associated payloads from their Long Beach, California, port facility out to a converted oil rig named Odyssey. Odyssey is the floating launch platform that also has room for 68 crew members and launch personnel.

Illustration is courtesy of Sea Launch.

This transportation of all of the material is accomplished via Sea Launch Commander vessel, which is also used to assemble and test all of the elements of the Zenit. Once all is in readiness, the ship uses a line-of-sight radio command to launch the rocket and its payload.

Sea Launch's Zenit-3SL launch vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Sea Launch.

If this is a "rumor" that becomes fact, many believe China would then move the entire operation, from the port facilities, ship and the floating launch platform—to their area of the world.

The regulatory nightmare surrounding ITAR technology transfer restrictions that would follow such an acquisition could prove to be rather monumental, and perhaps so Herculean that few could surmount such difficulties... including nations. Boeing is the original prime for the Zenit launcher, with the rocket being built by manufacturers based in the Ukraine and in Russia.