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Russian space infrastructure operator to upgrade Sea Launch project’s compounds

July 21, 2017, 15:52 UTC+3 ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region)
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ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), July 21. /TASS/. The Center for Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Operation (abbreviated as TsENKI in Russian) will take part in the upgrade of the Sea Launch project’s compounds to adapt them for Russia’s new Soyuz-5 carrier rocket, TsENKI CEO Rano Dzhurayeva told TASS on Friday.

"TsENKI is the author of all launch compounds, all technological equipment and, therefore, we’ll take part in the upgrade of equipment at both the Sea Launch and Ground Launch compounds and will subsequently exercise designer supervision over them. Launch services are our competence," the chief executive said at the MAKS-2017 international airshow.

TsENKI will be developing cooperation with the new owner of the Sea Launch - S7 Space Transport Systems - using the scheme, which is implemented with the European firm Arianespace under the Soyuz program in French Guiana (the Kourou spaceport) where the Russian operator conducts launches itself and ensures designer’s supervision over the entire technological equipment, she said.

Russia’s federal space program for 2016-2025 stipulates developing a new-generation medium-class space rocket complex (the Phoenix R&D work) from 2018 to 2025. The Russian government is expected to allocate almost 30 billion rubles ($498 million) for the launcher’s development. The project’s budget financing will begin in 2018.

In order to expedite flight tests, there are plans to use the launch pad of the Zenit carrier rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome, which Kazakhstan will modernize under the Baiterek program for the new Russian rocket. The Sea Launch compound is also expected to be used for rocket launches.

The first launch of the Soyuz-5 carrier rocket from the Baikonur spaceport is scheduled for 2022.

Sea Launch

The Sea Launch is an international commercial project of the seaborne rocket and space complex. Sea Launch Company was established in 1995 for the project’s implementation. Its founders included US Boeing, Russia’s Energiya Corporation, the Norwegian shipyard Kvaerner (currently Aker Solutions), Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye design bureau and the Ukrainian Yuzhmash rocket and space enterprise. Sea Launch Company declared its bankruptcy in the summer of 2009 and after its reorganization in 2010 Russia’s Energiya Corporation gained the leading role in the project. Space launches were suspended in 2014.

In late September 2016, S7 signed a contract with Sea Launch Group on the project’s acquisition. The purchase items comprised the Odyssey floating platform, the Sea Launch Commander ship, the ground-based equipment at Long Beach port (California), and also the Sea Launch trademark.

Space launches from the floating spaceport are expected to restart in 2018. A total of 10-12 launches are expected to be conducted under the project during the first five years.

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