Sea Launch Cuts Back as Manifest Gap Looms

sea_launch_zenitNYON, Switzerland, August 22, 2014 (Sea Launch PR) – Sea Launch announced today a series of cost-reduction measures designed to address an upcoming gap in the launch manifest of the Zenit-3SL system.  According to plan, it is expected that Sea Launch will resume and start stepping-up its launch activity during mid-2015/mid-2016 time frame.

The measures include staff reductions at Sea Launch’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland and its prime contractor, Energia Logistics, Ltd., located in Long Beach, California, as well as a reduction of operating expenses associated with laying-up the Sea Launch Commander and Odyssey vessels.  Taking these vessels out of service temporarily during inactive periods has been performed by Sea Launch previously and is common practice in the marine industry.

Sea Launch will be using this time to improve certain operational efficiencies, upgrade its launch and support systems including evaluating shore-based power for the vessels while in port and finalize internal trade studies relative to available vehicle configuration changes.

Serguei Gugkaev, CEO of Sea Launch stated, “In light of this gap in our launch manifest, Sea Launch is taking the opportunity to pursue all prudent business solutions to realize significant cost savings in labor, maintenance and fuel while maintaining the capability to call-up the vessels as needed. Sea Launch continues to aggressively market all available launch opportunities beginning in mid-2015 and will maintain a short launch call-up readiness state.  While any reduction in staff is regrettable, Sea Launch will retain key personnel across all corporate and technical functions, allowing the company to ramp-up to meet its next launch commitment”.

Editor’s Note: The Russian government said it plans to decide what to do about Sea Launch by the end of the year. The government is consolidating the space industry under the United Rocket and Space Corporation.  Sea Launch is majority owned by a subsidiary of RSC Energia, in which the government plans to take a majority stake.

One option would be to move operations to Russia. That would make Sea Launch eligible for Russian government launch contracts, which it is banned from currently due to its international status.

Components of Sea Launch’s Zenit boosters are built in Russia and Ukraine, which are currently involved in military conflict. The conflict does not seem to have affected cooperation on space projects.

A separate company, Land Launch, uses Zenit boosters at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.