MLP Sputnik

In order to launch at sea we need an off shore launch complex. To serve this purpose in 2010 we built a steel catamaran and named it MLP Sputnik.

In the center of the deck is the launch tower. It is arranged to be easily swapped for another type of launch tower so as to match the requirements of various types of rockets. So far we have operated using three different launch towers.

The HEAT-1X type launch tower in the picture is 12 meters high and is equipped with a ladder, two workplatforms for safe work at heights and a service crane capable of stacking and unstacking a HEAT-1X type rocket.

Sputnik at launch site, being joined by blue RIB.

2011 HEAT-1X launch

General operation

Sputnik must hold all materials and equipment needed to service the rocket and spacecraft at sea. That includes propellant, liquid oxygen etc, electrical supplies, communication and tracking equipment. In the picture two liquid oxygen tanks are clearly seen.

The Sputnik platform essentially provides the same function for us, as the MLP / crawler setup used at Kennedy Space Center does for NASA.

The mission starts near the HAB facility in Copenhagen, where we mount the launch tower, stack the rocket and load any LOX tanks etc needed for the campaign.

Given the ample storage space and  great carrying capacity of Sputnik, we also load any heavy or bulky items needed for the launch campaign onboard Sputnik for the voyage from Copenhagen to Nexø, Bornholm.

The transit from Copenhagen to Nexø is approx. 125 nautical miles and takes from 25 to 32 hours depending on the wind and sea conditions. The route takes us through two traffic separations and the narrow busy Øresund. We perform the transit with a crew of four persons, two persons per watch, four hours per watch.


The catamaran is designed for maximum stability – and minimum complexity in fabrication. All of the sheet metal that forms the hulls are used almost uncut, directly as delivered. This makes the construction very simple.

It consists of two 13,7x1x1 meter hulls made of 4 mm steel plate on a frame of 50x50x4 mm square tubing and two transverse 200x300x8 mm main steel beams.

For the 2010 campaign, while Sputnik was just an unpowered barge, we towed Sputnik using the submarine UC-3 Nautilus and the WW2 submarine hunter M/S Flora.

In 2011 it was motorized using Kubota D722 diesel engines, driving fixed 3-bladed propellers through ZF10m gearboxes.

Measured Bollard Pull: 4,5 kN


Vessel name Sputnik
Home port Nexø
MMSI 219015813
Callsign XPE3457