Sea Launch is an international consortium that launches satellites from ocean going platforms. This private enterprise assembled the best available technology without regard for national boundaries, including Russian launch vehicles, European ship and crew, and satellites from the United States and elsewhere.

They contracted with Pacific Rim to develop a system to prevent the toxic and explosive rocket fuel from causing destruction.

The upper rocket stages use dinitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine as propellants. (The same propellants used on the space shuttle.) Individually, these compounds are poisonous and when mixed they spontaneously combust.


Pacific Rim designed and installed a specialized abatement system to render these toxic compounds harmless in the event of a spill. This equipment is part of a comprehensive combination of equipment and hazard prevention procedures that cumulatively protect the ship and its crew from poisoning or explosion despite challenging conditions found aboard a moving ship.

The overall hazard prevention system embraces a strict policy of separation that keeps these hazardous materials away from each other and away from any personnel. This involves elaborate measures to ensure the compartments in which the materials are used and stored remained at a slightly negative pressure in comparison to other compartments on the ship (to insure any leaked material remains in that area). Furthermore these compartments contain both sensors to detect any leaks and reliable means to safely dispose of anything that did spill.

The upper stages of the rockets are fueled with hydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide at separate times to avoid the possibility of these compounds becoming accidently mixed. Pacific Rim continued this safety precaution by providing abatement systems with parallel and separate pathways for each compound.