27 Feb 2006

Rocket firm using Kiribati recommends equatorial Pacific as launch zone

7:41 am on 27 February 2006

The international consortium blasting rockets into space from Kiribati says the equatorial Pacific is the best area for launches in a tight satellite market.

Since November, Sea Launch has sent two satellites from a floating platform on the equator, south east of Kiritimati Island; a third is planned for April.

Speaking from the Sea Launch headquarters in Long Beach California, company spokesperson Paula Korn says despite the local there are still launching constraints:

"... you do need to watch out for land issues, you can't fly over populated areas, early on in your mission. The first land that we go over is the Galapagos Islands, and we're perhaps thousands of miles above land, by the time we fly over the Galapagos Islands, so we're orbital before we go over any populated land."

Russia is to build a launchpad in the Indonesia province of Papua and Japan is said to be interested in using Kiribati.

Ms Korn says there are around 20 sites around the world.