Boeing Considering Long Beach Harbor As Rocket Launching Site
Boeing Co. may invade the home turf of longtime rival Douglas Aircraft Co. by setting up a rocketlaunching facility in the Long Beach Harbor.
Boeing, which is leading an international consortium of companies that is planning to get into the business of putting satellites into orbit, is talking with officials about leasing space on the Navy mole in the harbor.
“Everyone thinks it’s an interesting and exciting possibility,” said Jerry Miller, manager of the redevelopment bureau. He said the Boeing operation would involve more than 100 local jobs.
The mole, a breakwater that protects the west basin of the Long Beach Harbor, is part of the now-closed Long Beach Naval Station.
Boeing spokeswoman Cindy Naucler declined to confirm that the company is negotiating with Long Beach, but said it plans to homeport its rocket launcher “on the West Coast” and wants “to be near potential customers such as Hughes and TRW.” Hughes and TRW are satellite builders.
Boeing has been talking with “ports all up and down the West Coast,” said Milt Furness, another Boeing spokesman. A decision is expected in a few weeks. The first launch is planned in about two years.
The Boeing plan calls for homeporting a converted oil-drilling platform and ship at a base on the West Coast.
The platform, which would be used as a launching pad, could be moved to various locations in the Pacific Ocean, depending on what kind of orbit a rocket was aiming for.
Boeing plans to form a company called Sea Launch with the Norwegian shipbuilder Kvaerner Group; RSC-Energia, a Russian aerospace company; and NPO-Yuzhnoye, a Ukrainian rocket-builder. Kvaerner would be responsible for acquiring or building the launch platform. RSC-Energia and NPOYuzhnoye would build the rocket. Boeing would be responsible for putting everything together.