Sea Launch Places Communications Satellite in Orbit
A Zenit 3SL rocket successfully launched an American
communications satellite for the multinational Sea Launch company
Friday, the first since a failed launch in March.
The Zenit lifted off on schedule at 6:42 pm EDT (2242 UT)
Friday, July 28, from Sea Launch's mobile, floating launch platform,
located on the Equator at 154 degrees west longitude in the Pacific
Ocean. Its payload, the PAS-9 satellite for PanAmSat, was placed into
a geosynchronous transfer orbit about one hour and 45 minutes after
"Today's success clearly establishes Sea Launch's position as
a proven launch services provider," said Sea Launch president Will
Trafton. "We how have three very successful missions and have moved
into full scale operations."
The launch is the first for Sea Launch since a March 12 launch
that failed to place its payload, the ICO F-1 satellite for
communications company ICO, into orbit.
That failure was traced to a software glitch that failed to
close a helium valve in a pneumatic system in the vehicle's second
stage. The open valve allowed helium to escape, lowering pressure in
the system until it could no longer operate the second-stage engine,
causing the booster to fail to reach orbital velocity and crash
instead in the eastern Pacific.
The 3,650-kg (8,030-lb.) PAS-9 satellite, a Hughes model HS
601 HP, will be positioned at 58 degrees west longitude, replacing the
existing PAS-5 satellite. The satellite will provide video services
for the Americas, including direct television broadcasts for Mexico.
The launch was the fourth for Sea Launch, after an inaugural
demonstration flight in March 1999 and first commercial flight in
October of that year, as well as March's failure. The next Sea Launch
mission is tentatively planned for mid-September, when a Zenit 3SL
will launch the Thuraya communications satellite for the United Arab
Sea Launch, headquartered in Long Beach, California, is a
joint effort by a number of companies, led by Boeing. Ukrainian
aerospace company SDO Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash provides the Zenit booster,
RSC Energia the upper stage used by the Zenit, and the Anglo-Norwegian
Kvaerner Group the two vessels used by Sea Launch.
S P A C E V I E W S
2000 July 31