Water is a little buoyant which may be part of the reason a lot of commerce happens on the waves.

  • How much of a difference in terms of fuel would it make if the craft were launched from a water-body?
  • Have all spacecraft to-date launched from land?
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sea Launch. I remember about a satellite launch from a Russian submarine. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2013 at 9:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Assuming you are asking about launch from a ship, part of your question is addressed at space.stackexchange.com/questions/744/… $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2013 at 9:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Converted SLBM, such as Shtil $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Aug 25, 2013 at 11:43

3 Answers 3


Spacecraft have been launched on Air, Land, and Sea.

Air Launch

The most popular of these is the Pegasus Rocket from Orbital. The airplane carrying the rocket goes up to ~40,000 ft, and fires off the rocket from below. These have carried a number of missions, including NASA, commercial, and other sources.

Sea Launch

The name of a company which launches such rockets. They utilized the Zenit-3SL rockets for all of their launches, and primarily launched GEO satellites from the equator, which reduces considerably the cost to launch a GEO sat, due to the fact that the inclination doesn't have to be removed.


To add to the existing answers, this article describes a small satellite launched from a Russian submarine on a converted submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The satellite launched was called Kompass 2, and it was put into a ~ 400x480 km orbit at around 80 degrees inclination.

The Wikipedia article linked above describes another submarine-based launch in 1998, which placed two payloads into a 400x776 km orbit, again near 80 degrees inclination.


There will not be a difference in fuel consumption unless the launch site is placed at high altitude (above sea level).

Sea launch:

Thirty-one rockets have been assembled and launched so far, with three failures and one partial failure.

Land launch:

According to this site 6851 launches have been conducted by various nations using this technique.


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