WASHINGTON — After steering Sea Launch into the hands of a new owner, chief executive Sergey Gugkaev will leave the company to look for a new role elsewhere in the space industry.
Gugkaev has been CEO of Sea Launch since 2012, and oversaw the company’s attempt to reestablish itself after emerging from bankruptcy only two years earlier.
Switzerland-based Sea Launch struggled to regain traction in the commercial market despite launching five times in 14 months between late 2011 and December 2012.
A 2013 failure that destroyed a $400 million Intelsat satellite, and the lack of any government customer ensuring consistent demand for Zenit rockets, forced Sea Launch out of the market the following year. The company launched only once more, orbiting the Eutelsat-3B telecommunications satellite in May 2014. It hasn’t launched since.
In an interview with SpaceNews, Gugkaev didn’t give a specific reason for his near-term departure, saying only that the timing is right because of Sea Launch’s ownership changes. Russian aviation giant S7 Group announced at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in September 2016 its intent to buy Sea Launch and its assets, including its Odyssey sea-faring launch base and Sea Launch Commander ship used to ...