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20080115

Sea Launch today launched a satellite using a rocket from a repurposed oil rig in the middle of the Pacific ocean near the equator. The Sea Launch platform was formerly a semisubmersible oil rig in the North Sea that is now repurposed for rocket launches by Sea Launch.

Today's rocket payload was a Thuraya 3 satellite bound for geosynchronous orbit.

"The position, close to the Pacific island of Kiritimati, means the Zenit rocket can take full advantage of the Earth's rotational speed and launch more mass for less effort, compared with the world's major land-based spaceports."

How it works:

  • the command ship leaves the floating platform

  • 6 underwater valves are opened in the underwater pontoons, take on thousands of litres of water

  • platform sinks to approximately 22 meters giving it stability for launch

  • dynamic positioning system acts like an anchor holding the platform into place

  • the rocket emerges from its hanger

  • hydraulic arms from the transporter erector push the rocket into ready position

  • rocket liftoff is automated as observers watch from 5km away on the command ship

Sea Launch proved their concept worked back in 1999 and have since launched 25 payloads.

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