On August 19, 2012, at 06:55 Greenwich time, Integrated Launch Vehicle «Zenit-3SL» carrying spacecraft (SC) Intelsat-21 was launched from the Odyssey Launch Platform of the Sea Launch Rocket and Space Complex located in the equator area of the Pacific Ocean at Longitude 154°W. Initially, SC with Upper Stage (US) DM-SL was placed into circular intermediate orbit. Then US DM-SL injected SC into target geostationary orbit

The Mission Program was implemented in full. Upper Stage provided SC delivery to the scheduled orbit with a high accuracy; the world record was set in spacecraft orbital insertion accuracy. Perigee altitude was to be 280 plus0minus 13 kilometers; the error was 0 kilometers. Apogee altitude was to be 35786 kilometers plus-minus 129 kilometers. An actual apogee altitude was different by several kilometers from the scheduled apogee altitude.

Analysis of US DM-SL/SC flight was performed by RSC Energia specialists who were working at RSC Energia’s Upper Stages and Spacecraft Mission Control Center and maintaining permanent communication with the Control Center located on the Sea Launch Commander vessel of the Sea Launch Complex.

The activities being conducted were under control of the President, General Designer of RSC Energia V.A. Lopota.

Prelaunch processing of LV with US and SC onboard the Sea Launch Commander vessel and LV launch from the Odyssey Launch Platform were performed by the launch team under the direct leadership of RSC Energia’s Deputy General Designer V.G. Aliev.


In March 1999, the first trial launch from the sea-based platform was performed in the Pacific Ocean.

On October 10, 1999 the first commercial launch of launch vehicle Zenit-3SL was conducted from the floating Sea Launch Cosmodrome. The Upper Stage DM-SL injected satellite Direct-TV into geostationary orbit.


The Sea Launch Rocket and Space Complex is designed to launch multifunctional spacecraft into near-Earth orbits, including high, circular, elliptical orbits, geostationary orbit and escape trajectories leading to other celestial bodies of the Solar system. Mass of spacecraft to be injected into standard intermediate circular orbit of 200 km by altitude is up to 6,1 t.

The history of the international project named the «Sea Launch» began as far back as in 1993 when the delegation of the specialists from the then – NPO Energia submitted to the Boeing Company the results of their preliminary studies under the project of mobile sea-based rocket and space complex as one of potential cooperation areas.

On May 4, 1995 the Presidents of the four companies (the Boeing Company, RSC Energia, Kvaerner, NPO Yuzhnoye) signed the Agreement on setting up the Sea Launch joint venture. In 2010 the company was restructured which entailed change in its membership. In so doing, RSC Energia improved its position.

In October 1997, the Kvaerner shipyards completed building of the Launch Platform and Assembly-Command Ship and they were transported to Russia.

In July 1998 Russia, shipyard at Vyborg completed outfitting of the Launch Platform and Assembly-Command Ship with launch processing and launch systems.

Sea Launch


Sea-based Rocket and Space Complex consists of the following segments.

Rocket Segment:

  • Integrated Launch Vehicle Complex which includes orbital insertion equipment, i.e. launch vehicle Zenit-3SL, processing equipment and space rocket processing and launch system complexes;
  • complex of automated control systems of processing and launch;
  • automated control system of upper stage flight;
  • measurement complex.


Spacecraft Segment:

  • Payload Unit with Spacecraft.

Marine Segment:

  • Launch Platform;
  • Assembly-Command Ship.

Home Port:

  • Payload Unit processing rooms;
  • LV and US stages storage rooms.

Range support:

  • US mission control center;
  • SC mission control center;
  • relay satellites (TDRSS, Intelsat, etc.).


Rocket Segment

Integrated Launch Vehicle Zenit 3-SL

Developed on the basis of Russian-Ukrainian operational LV Zenit-2 and operating Upper Stage DM which was designed in RSC Energia for Moon programs and named DM-SL under this project.

Integrated Launch Vehicle Zenit 3-SL


Upper Stage DM-SL 

Assures injection of spacecraft into target orbit along with satisfying customer’s requirements for orientation and injection accuracy.

Upper Stage DM-SL


Spacecraft Segment 

Payload Unit includes payload fairing with spacecraft installed thereon.

 Payload Unit


Marine Segment

Odyssey Launch Platform is self-propelled, semisubmersible platform of catamaran type. The platform accommodates hangar in which the assembled space rocket with payload is transported to launch site. The platform can house 68 team members and launch support personnel.

Odyssey Launch Platform

Assembly-Command Ship is outfitted with the systems and equipment which make it possible to conduct aboard integrated tests of launch vehicle and upper stage; fill upper stage with propellant components and gases; assemble and test space rocket. Three sets of launch vehicles can be accommodated aboard the ship.

Also the ship can perform control center functions during launch vehicle processing and launch. The ship houses Block Dm launch control center and telemetry measurements receiving and processing equipment. The Assembly Command Ship accommodates up to 240 team members and personnel involved in launch processing and launch operations, including customer’s representatives.

Assembly-Command Ship


Home Port 

Home Port is situated at western sea coast of the United States (Long Beach city, Los Angeles area, California). This place is chosen for spacecraft processing, stationing of the launch platform and assembly-command ship for a period between launches; storage of launch vehicle and Block DM stages, as well as for filling them with propellant components and gases; support of space rocket assembly operations and tests.

Home Port

Range Support 

US and SC flight control is conducted from the assembly-command ship assisted by Control Centers, Ground Measurement stations and communication equipment involved.

Range Support 

Also Upper Stage flight is commanded from RSC Energia Control Center for Upper Stages and Spacecraft flights.

Sea Launch

Sea Launch

Standard flight course:
Standard flight course

As on September 2012, 33 launches were performed from the Sea Launch Rocket and Space complex.

RSC Energia is the leading enterprise in charge of the Rocket Segment which is responsible for its outfitting and integration into the complex and ensures manufacturing and operational use of Upper Stages DM-SL as the 3rd stage of rocket Zenit-3SL with cooperative support of space industry subcontractors.

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