by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Sep 26, 2011
International consortium Sea Launch resumed its operations on Saturday with a launch of a Russian-Ukrainian Zenit-3SL rocket carrying a European telecoms satellite, the company said.
The rocket put the Atlantic Bird 7 satellite into a high-perigee transfer orbit at 21:25 GMT.
The 4.6-ton satellite was built by Astrium for Eutelsat Communications to provide digital broadcasting services for Eutelsat's customers in the Middle East and North Africa. Its scheduled in-orbit lifetime exceeds 15 years.
Sea Launch was created in 1995. It incorporated Russian space corporation Energia with a 25% stake, a Boeing subsidiary with 40%, Norwegian company Aker ASA with a 20% stake and Ukraine's SDO Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash with 15%.
A total of 30 rocket launches have been made from the Odyssey platform in the Pacific from 1999 until 2009, with 27 of them successful.
Sea Launch announced its bankruptcy in June 2009. In July 2010, Energia subsidiary Energia Overseas Limited (EOL) received 95% in Sea Launch by a bankruptcy court ruling.
Sea Launch currently has ten Zenit-3SL's on order to satisfy existing and future customer requirements for launches through the end of 2013, the company said.
earlier related report
The Zenit-3SL rocket carrying the Atlantic Bird 7 spacecraft lifted off at 13:18 Pacific Daylight Time (20:18 GMT/UTC) on September 24 from the launch platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in international waters of the Pacific Ocean. One hour and seven minutes later, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the satellite, weighing approximately 4,600 kilograms (10,141 lbs.) and built by Astrium, an EADS company, into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 7 degrees West Longitude.
Operators at the Hartebeesthoek ground station near Pretoria, South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the launch mission.
"We offer our sincere congratulations to Eutelsat, and to Astrium for this outstanding success," said Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG. "We're very proud to play a role in Eutelsat's continued and expanding success.
"We thank you for your renewed trust and confidence in our system and our team. I also want to thank and congratulate the Sea Launch and Energia Logistics teams, RSC Energia, as well as all of the suppliers and contractors around the world who support us."
Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, added: "The powerful Atlantic Bird 7 satellite will further consolidate Eutelsat's resources for vibrant digital broadcasting markets across the Middle East and North Africa.
"Our thanks go to Sea Launch AG, Energia Logistics and RSC Energia for this precisely-executed launch and their extreme professionalism during this important campaign.
"With tonight's launch successfully completed, we are now fully focused on collaborating with our industrial partner, Astrium, to bring Atlantic Bird 7 into full commercial service next month."
earlier related report
Lift-off of the rocket carrying the Astrium-built 4.6 tonne satellite took place on Saturday 24 September at 20:18 GMT/UTC (22:18 CET). After a 1-hour 7-minute flight, the Zenit-3SL booster released Atlantic Bird 7 into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Partial deployment of the solar array, commanded by Eutelsat from its teleport in Rambouillet, was successfully completed within three hours of separation.
Atlantic Bird 7 is set to bring first-class resources to 7 degrees West, a key video neighbourhood delivering Arab and international channels into almost 30 million satellite homes across North Africa and the Middle East.
Eutelsat operates at 7 degrees West in close collaboration with the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat which manages its own system of three satellites at this location.
Following early orbit operations which are managed by Eutelsat and Astrium engineers, and which include circularising the satellite's orbit and deploying the antennas, Atlantic Bird 7 will undergo a full series of in-orbit tests.
It will be moved to 7 degrees West in the second half of October to assume broadcasting of the 370 digital and High-Definition channels already delivered from this position by Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 4A satellite.
With up to 50 transponders, 11 more than Atlantic Bird 4A, it will also open opportunities for further business development in high-growth markets. Two beams will give superior coverage across the Middle East, North Africa and North-West Africa.
Following Atlantic Bird 7's entry into service, Atlantic Bird 4A will be redeployed to an alternative location where it will remain in full commercial service.
Commenting after launch and the first manoeuvres, Eutelsat CEO, Michel de Rosen said: "We are delighted to announce that Atlantic Bird 7 is on its way to 7 degrees West, and thank Sea Launch, Energia Logistics and RSC Energia for a precisely executed launch.
This new satellite will deliver headroom for expansion at one of Eutelsat's fastest growing video neighbourhoods, serving vibrant TV markets in North Africa and the Middle East. It underscores our ambition to make a long-term commitment to digital broadcasting markets in the region and to team with key players to deliver first-class service.
Today's launch also represents a new step forward in Eutelsat's significant in-orbit expansion programme. Our W3C satellite is scheduled for launch next month, with five further satellites to follow into space by early 2014 that will collectively increase our resources by 20%."
Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, and with a scheduled in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years, Atlantic Bird 7 is the 20th satellite ordered by Eutelsat from Astrium.
Source: RIA Novosti
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