The troubled Sea Launch operation had some more bad news in February. Kjell Karlsen, its long time President has resigned from the firm and leaves at the end of February after a 14-year service. Karlsen is reported to be leaving the launch industry to join a movie/film licensing business.
The departure of Karlsen comes at a difficult time for Sea Launch. Having emerged from a bankruptcy which was triggered by an explosive launch failure in January 2007 (damaging the pad and destroying the NSS-8 communications satellite), the firm’s plans to recover suffered another blow when it had a launch failure in February 2013 (destroying the Intelsat 27 communications satellite).
Not only does Sea Launch has its own reliability issues to contend with, it now finds itself having to fight both its long time rivals, Arianespace and ILS, and also the new low cost launch interloper SpaceX. This new contender now threatens Sea Launches traditional position as the alternative choice to the big two – a position supported by satellite operators Intelsat and Eutelsat who want enough competition in the launch market.
The Sea Launch firm’s order book and launch schedule are hardly full. The next launch carrying the ...