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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Energiya Pushes Back Sea Launch Date

Rocket maker RKK Energiya said Thursday it had postponed the first launch of its Zenit booster from a sea launch pad under an ambitious international project from January until March next year.

"The launch is postponed until March 1999 when the booster will lift a dummy Galaxy XI satellite into orbit," Energiya spokesman Sergei Gromov said.

The launch was pushed back because U.S. authorities delayed permission for tests in the Californian city of Long Beach, where the command ship and floating launch pad are based, Gromov said.

In July, the U.S. State Department ordered Energiya's U.S. partner, Boeing Co., to suspend work on the Sea Launch project after concluding that sensitive U.S. space information had been disclosed to Russian and Ukrainian engineers.

The first launch from a converted offshore oil platform initially was scheduled for November, but last month Energiya postponed it until January.

"This is a new page in commercial satellite launches and more time is needed to get things ready," Gromov said.

Boeing and Energiya are working with the Anglo-Norwegian engineering group Kvaerner ASA and Ukrainian rocket maker NPO-Yuzhnoye on the Sea Launch, which costs $2 billion.

Gromov said launching probes from the equator would be more profitable because the catapult effect of Earth's rotational speed was the greatest there, compared with greater costs of launches from terrestrial cosmodromes like Cape Canaveral or Baikonur.

Boeing has a 40 percent stake in the Sea Launch venture, Kvaerner owns 20 percent, while Energiya and NPO Yuzhnoye hold 25 percent and 15 percent respectively.