Russian-backed Sea Launch satellite company trims staff

22nd August 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russian-backed Sea Launch said Friday it was cutting staff and taking its floating rocket launch pads out of service due a gap in orders to launch satellites.

"In light of this gap in our launch manifest, Sea Launch is taking the opportunity to pursue all prudent business solutions to realise significant cost savings in labour, maintenance and fuel," chief executive Sergei Gugkayev said in a statement on the company's website, without giving specific figures.

"Sea Launch continues to aggressively market all available launch opportunities beginning in mid-2015 and will maintain a short launch call-up readiness state," he said.

Sea Launch has been performing commercial satellite launches since 1999, using a version of the Zenit rockets designed for the Soviet space programme and launching them from a seaborne platform that travels to the equator to get the full benefit of the earth's rotation.

The layoffs will hit the company's headquarters in Switzerland and also in the US state of California, where the payloads are assembled and the platform docked.

Sea Launch's main shareholder is Russia's Energia, which produces the Soyuz rockets that used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, while Boeing and Norway's Aker ASA hold small indirect stakes.

Space Launch has previously had financial problems, and competition in the industry has been become fierce since California start-up SpaceX introduced a rocket that is considerably cheaper than rivals.

© 2014 AFP

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