Sea Launch’ Zenit 3SL launcher operated from Odyssey launch platform.

Sea Launch’ Zenit 3SL launcher operated from Odyssey launch platform.

Launch operator Sea Launch operated the Zenit 3SL launcher from the Odyssey launch platform.


Sea Launch was a multinational spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile maritime launch platform for equatorial launches of satellites on specialized Zenit-3SL rockets. The company was headquartered in Nyon, Switzerland but ceased operations due to technical problems and lower demands as of 2014. In 2018 Sea Launch was acquired by Russian S7 Group and in 2020 all vessels were moved to Russia and the HQ in Nyon was liquidated.

By 2013, Sea Launch had assembled and launched 31 rockets, with 3 failures and 1 partial failure. All had been communications satellites intended for geostationary transfer orbit with such customers as EchoStar, DirecTV, Eutelsat, XM Satellite Radio, PanAmSat (Intelsat), and Thuraya (YahSat).

Sea Launch was established in 1995 as a consortium of four companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, managed by Boeing with participation from the other shareholders. The first rocket was launched in March 1999.

On March 17th, 2006, it was announced that Jim Maser, the President and General Manager of Sea Launch, would leave the company to join SpaceX as President and CEO.

In June 2009, the provider of the Sea Launch service, Sea Launch Co. LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Sea Launch asserted that it would ‘continue to maintain all normal business operations after the filing for reorganization’.

In August 2010, RSC Energia, which already owned 25% of Sea Launch, announced it planned to acquire a controlling interest of 85% in the company. As a result, the company planned to begin land-based launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in early 2011, while sea-based launches to be resumed in September 2011.

Sea Launch emerged from bankruptcy in October 2010. Russian company Energia Overseas Ltd, is majority owner of the reorganized entity, with Boeing and other American companies retaining minority shares.

In 2013, Boeing sued RSC Energia, PO Yuzhnoye and KB Yuzhnoye. According to Boeing the companies refused to pay more than 350 million USD following the joint venture’s bankruptcy filing in 2009.

In April 2018 the S7 Group closed the transaction on its 109 million USD purchase of Sea Launch from RSC Energia and will rename Sea Launch to SL Aerospace. The company also announced that Russia’s RSC Energia and Roskosmos State Corporation and the Ukraine-based Zenit manufacturer Yuzhmash would be partners in Sea Launch, which would be managed from Moscow by the S7 KTS company, also known as S7 Space.

S7 intends to eventually conduct ocean-based satellite launches with a new vehicle called Soyuz 5. The rocket’s design allegedly takes notes from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, including a reusable first stage and modular multiple engine boosters for a heavy lift variant.

In February 2020 S7 Group moved the 46,000-ton Sea Launch’s Odyssey launch platform to Slavyanka Shipyard near Vladivostok in Russia using a Chinese cargo ship. S7 Group confirmed that no further launches were planned for the foreseeable future but will start the 470 million USD reconstruction and modernization of the platform in November 2020. The company expects to resume operations in 2023/24 with the prospective Soyuz-5 and Soyuz-6 rockets.