Three years after Sea Launch
spiralled towards bankruptcy following the explosion of its Zenit 3SL
rocket, the satellite launch provider is preparing to restart
Both of its land and sea launches use the Zenit rocket. But the more
expensive sea-based missions allow a much greater payload – up to
6,100kg (13,440lb) against about 3,600kg – because the sea platform can
be positioned exactly on the equator, at a point about 2,250km (1,215nm)
south of Hawaii.
At that point the force of the Earth’s rotation gives maximum
assistance to a rocket, which can lift more payload in exchange for the
fuel load it must carry when launched from more northerly or southerly
Here’s a diagram of how Sea Launch’s launch works, as well as an explanation below.