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Sea Launch Operations To Be Resumed Despite Liftoff Failure

"A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL vehicle, carrying the NSS-8 satellite, experienced an anomaly today during launch operations. Sea Launch will establish a Failure Review Oversight Board to determine the root cause of this anomaly," said a statement issued by Sea Launch.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (RIA Novosti) Jan 31, 2007
Russia's Federal Space Agency said Wednesday it hopes the Sea Launch project will be resumed despite the explosion of a Zenit-3SL rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite.

"A split second following separation from the launch tower, an emergency occurred causing the Zenit-3SL booster rocket to fall back onto the floating platform and damaging it," press secretary Igor Panarin said. "We hope there will be no long-term consequences and that the Sea Launch program will be resumed."

The rocket exploded during liftoff from an oceangoing platform in the Pacific early Wednesday (11:22 p.m. GMT Tuesday), a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"There was an explosion as we were lifting off. No one involved in the launch was injured," Paula Korn said.

She said a special commission has been set up to investigate the failed launch.

The Boeing-developed NSS-8 satellite was meant for Netherlands-based SES New Skies.

Established in 1995, the Sea Launch consortium is owned by Boeing, Kvaerner ASA of Oslo, Norway, and SDO Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and RSC-Energia of Moscow.

The company launches its vehicles from the equator, which allows rockets to carry heavier payloads than they could from other locations due to the physics of the Earth's rotation.

The Zenit-3SL rocket has three stages, all fueled by kerosene and liquid oxygen.

earlier related report
New Skies To Use Existing NSS-703 Until 2009
SES New Skies has announced the failure of the launch of iNSS 8, the sixth satellite in the SES New Skies fleet, onboard a Zenith 3SL launch vehicle, and the resulting total loss of the satellite.

"SES New Skies is currently not in a position to comment on the possible causes of the mission failure and is awaiting the results of the official investigation which is in the process of being installed.

"NSS 8 was built by Boeing, with launch services from the Odyssey Platform in the equatorial Pacific provided by Sea Launch. The spacecraft was intended to operate at SES New Skies orbital position of 57 degrees East to replace the existing NSS 703 satellite.

"The launch failure of NSS 8 means that NSS 703 will now stay at 57 degrees East in order to continue to serve existing customers until at least 2009.

"SES New Skies has already initiated the construction of NSS 9 for launch in 2009 into the Pacific Ocean Region. NSS 9 is intended to free up NSS 5 which in turn will then be free to relocate to 57 degrees to replace NSS 703.

"The NSS 8 launch failure is thus not expected to have an impact on existing customers or revenues."

earlier related report
Satellite destroyed as rocket explodes on lift-off
Los Angeles (XNA) Jan 30 - A communications satellite built by Boeing Co was destroyed yesterday when its booster rocket exploded in a fireball during lift-off from a converted oil rig in the Pacific Ocean, according to Reuters.

Sea Launch, the operator of the Zenit rocket, said no one was hurt. The extent of damage to the launch platform was not yet known.

The commercial NSS 8 satellite, owned by SES New Skies of the Netherlands, was equipped with nearly 100 transponders for high-speed Internet, broadcasting and other services.

California-based Sea Launch is a partnership of Boeing of the United States, Russia's RSC-Energia, Aker ASA of Norway and SDO Yuznoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine.

SES New Skies is a unit of European satellite giant SES Global.

Yesterday's launch from the equator in the Pacific would have been Sea Launch's 24th flight since its debut in 1999.

The company had one previous failure of its Zenit model when a mobile communications satellite was lost in March 2000 due to a valve problem in the rocket's second stage.

SES New Skies said in a statement it was not prepared to comment on potential causes of the mission's failure and was waiting for the results of an investigation.

The Zenit rocket was fully fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen when it exploded.

The launch was being broadcast on the Internet but the transmission was cut off as a fireball enveloped the platform, Spaceflightnow.com reported.

Source: RIA Novosti

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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Atlanta GA (SPX) Jan 24, 2007
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