Sea-Based Space Launch Facilities
Unlike many space launch facilities in the World, both Baikonur and Plesetsk are not directly situated on or near a coast. Consequently, the lower, sub-orbital stages of USSR/CIS boosters normally fall back on former Soviet territory. This situation limits the permissible launch azimuths to avoid impacts near populated or foreign regions, e.g., due east launches (the most advantageous) from Baikonur are forbidden since lower rocket stages would fall on Chinese territory. For those launch corridors which are used, tens of thousands of tons of spent boosters, many with toxic residual propellants still on board, now litter the countryside. Steps are underway around both Baikonur and Plesetsk to mitigate the situation, but the problem remains monumental.
A consortium of joint stock companies, joint ventures, and state organizations created the Kosmoflot Scientific Technical Center to investigate the feasibility of deploying sea-based space launch facilities. These so-called floating cosmodromes would house the launch vehicles in partially submerged silos. The Okean system would be capable of handling boosters with payloads of up to two metric tons. A Government decree on 3 May 1994 designated RKK Energiya as the lead Russian industry to develop sea-based launch platforms. The decree also permitted cooperation with Ukrainian enterprises (References 431-434).
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|