Roscosmos and RKK Energia are going to sale Sea Launch Company.
According to TASS, both shareholders are interested in selling Sea Launch, company established for launching Ukrainian Zenit rocket from floating sea platform (whole idea was described in this post referring to Zenit rocket). RKK Energia repurchased shares from Boeing Commercial Space and planned to operate independently. Deep crisis between Russia and Ukraine caused the suspension of many different projects where Ukrainian space industry was involved. Lack of appropriate rockets available from Russian company, caused cancelling launches from platform. At the beginning of 2015, on 3rd March, CEO of Sea Launch, Mr. Sergei Gugkaev claimed in the interview for ViaSatellite portal:
“There are several different paths and ways where Sea Launch might go in the future, and one of these scenarios is that Sea Launch would change its launch vehicle…There could be scenarios where we would remain in the same operational mode as we are right now with the U.S. as our homeport for vessels and Zenit as our launch vehicle. There could be scenarios where we would be relocating Sea Launch operations from the U.S. but keeping Zenit as the rocket. Different scenarios are possible.”
It seemed that Sea Launch is going to survive hard times under wings of RKK Energia until new rocket will be available for commercial use, or will be moved to operate in other region. At the moment Angara 1.2 (about Angara rocket family you can read here) is available and widely advertised as a modern and flexible solution, but it did not change Space Launch situation. Plans of moving platform are also cancelled, in spite of claims of Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Dmitry Rogozin from December 2014:
“A quite remarkable dialogue at the level of experts is currently in progress; possibly, the idea may take shape within the BRICS group, or in our bilateral relations with Brazil, of carrying out such joint launches and furnishing assistance to Brazil in developing its space industry and making its own spacecraft,”
Since 2014 when platform was shut down, Sea Launch is losing great amounts for maintenance – approximately $30 million per year. It seems that designed especially for Zenit rocket expensive platform with vessels and technical background is going to be sold below its worth. It is interesting situation for potential commercial investors: buying Sea Launch and investing in Yuzhnoye Design Office (manufacturer of Zenit rocket) will give opportunity to establish space launch company with fraction of costs. Any country without own launch system but able to manufacture commercial payload could be possible investor (for example Taiwan is still developing SLV-3 launch system but defiantly has potential for manufacturing own satellites). Ukraine government could find investor and buy Sea Launch – with Yuzhnoe it could be beginning of Ukraine as serious player on space market.