THE SEA LAUNCH joint venture headed by Boeing has secured a second major contract for space-launch services.

Space Systems/Loral, a unit of Loral Space & Communications, has agreed to purchase five firings from the Sea Launch system, starting in the second half of 1998 and running through to the year 2001. The company has yet to assign payloads for the planned launches.

The contract follows an order from Hughes Space and Communications late in 1995 for at least ten launches. The contract, with options, is worth about $1 billion.

Boeing Commercial Space is joined by Russia's RSC-Energia, Ukraine's KB Yuzhnoye and PO Yuzhmash, and Kvaerner Group, a Norwegian shipbuilder. Ukraine provides the two-stage Zenit booster, while Russia builds the upper stage.

Sea Launch is developing its home port in Long Beach, California. Rockets and satellites, which have been integrated in California will be launched from international waters in the Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii.

An oil rig is being converted to a launch platform, and a command and control ship is also under construction. The initial launch of a Hughes spacecraft has been scheduled for 1998.

Source: Flight International