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Previous chapter: Zenit's second stage
Zenit flight history
1985 April 13: After a one-day delay caused by technical problem with the launch hardware, the first Zenit-2 rocket blasted off from Baikonur. Due to the problems with the controller of the propellant consumption on the second stage of the rocket, its engine run out of fuel and prematurely shot down at T+400 seconds. (67) The payload did not reach the orbit and the launch was not announced at the time.
The rocket carried EPN 03.0694 payload equivalent, representing general dimensions, shape, weight and the center of gravity of the Tselina-2 spacecraft. To measure sound and vibration loads during the launch, the EPNs carried acoustic sensors and vibration accelerometers. A separate set of accelerometers also tracked the process of payload fairing jettison. The EPN also carried hardware to measure orbit parameters.
1985 June 21: A Zenit-2 rocket blasted off from Baikonur, however its second stage shot down prematurely. Some fragments from this launch reached the orbit, however the launch was not announced at the time. (67) The rocket carried EPN 03.0694 payload equivalent, representing the Tselina-2 spacecraft.
1985 Oct. 22: Zenit-2 launched successfully. The rocket carried EPN 03.0694 payload equivalent, representing the Tselina-2 spacecraft. The payload was announced as Kosmos-1697.
1985 Dec. 28: Zenit-2 launched the Tselina-2 satellite. The spacecraft entered wrong orbit due to the malfunction of the second stage of the launch vehicle. The payload was announced as Kosmos-1714.
1986 July 30: A Zenit-2 rocket launched successfully. The rocket carried EPN 03.0695 payload equivalent, designed to test the Zenit's performance at its maximum cargo capacity. The EPN 03.0695 consisted of the Tselina-2 mockup attached to a four-segment cargo article. The payload was announced as Kosmos-1767.
1986 Oct. 22: A Zenit-2 rocket launched the spacecraft announced as Kosmos-1786. The spacecraft apparently failed to circularize its orbit. (Post-Soviet sources revealed that the vehicle carried the Taifun-1B satellite -- a 2-meter sphere intended for the calibration of the antiaircraft and antimissile radar.
1987 Feb. 14: 11:30:00 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 launched Kosmos-1820, thought to be a prototype of the Orlets-2 imaging reconnaissance spacecraft. In reality, the rocket carried EPN 03.0695 payload equivalent, designed to test the Zenit's performance at its maximum cargo capacity. The EPN 03.0695 consisted of Tselina-2 mockup attached to a four-segment cargo article.
1987 March 18: Zenit-2 launched successfully. The rocket carried EPN 03.0694 payload equivalent, representing general dimensions, shape, weight and the center of gravity of the Tselina-2 spacecraft. The payload was announced as Kosmos-1833.
1987 May 13: Zenit-2 successfully launched the Tselina-2 spacecraft. The payload announced as Kosmos-1844. Michael Gorbachev, the head of the ruling Communist Party at the time, personally witnessed the launch in Baikonur.
1987 Aug. 1: 06:59:00 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 launched Kosmos-1871, thought to be a prototype of the Orlets-2 imaging reconnaissance spacecraft. In reality, the rocket carried EPN 03.0695 payload equivalent, designed to test the Zenit's performance at its maximum cargo capacity. The EPN 03.0695 consisted of Tselina-2 mockup attached to a four-segment cargo article.
1987 Aug. 28: 11:20:00 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 launched Kosmos-1873, thought to be a prototype of the Orlets-2 imaging reconnaissance spacecraft. In reality, the rocket carried EPN 03.0695 payload equivalent, designed to test the Zenit's performance at its maximum cargo capacity. The EPN 03.0695 consisted of Tselina-2 mockup attached to a four-segment cargo article. This was the last test launch of the Zenit rocket.
1988 May 15: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-1943.
1988 Nov. 23: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-1980.
1990 May 22: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2082.
1990 Oct. 4: Zenit-2 failed 4 seconds after the launch with a Tselina-2 spacecraft destroying right launch pad at Site-45 in Baikonur. From now on, only left pad was used for Zenit launches.
1991 Aug. 30: Zenit-2 failed to place a satellite into orbit due to a second stage failure.
1992 Feb. 5: Zenit-2 failed to place a satellite into orbit due to a second stage failure.
1992 Nov. 17:10:42 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 successfully launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2219.
1992 Dec. 25: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft officially announced as Kosmos-2227.
1993 March 26: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft officially announced as Kosmos-2237.
1993 Sept. 16: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft officially announced as Kosmos-2263.
1994 April 23: Zenit-2 launched a spacecraft officially announced as Kosmos-2278.
1994 Aug. 26:15:00:00 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 launched Kosmos-2290 believed to be the Orlets imaging reconnaissance satellite.
1994 Nov. 4: Zenit-2 launched a Resurs O1-3 spacecraft from Baikonur.
1994 Nov. 24: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2297.
1995 Oct. 30-31: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2322.
1996 Sept. 4: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2333.
1997 May 20: Zenit exploded 48 seconds after launch, while carrying a Tselina-2 spacecraft. The debris fell eight miles downrange.
1998 July 10, 08:30 Moscow Time: After several delays, Zenit-2 successfully launched Resurs-O1-4 and five foreign payloads into orbit including IRIS-1, Thailand's TMSAT, the Israeli TechSAT-2, Chilean FaSAT-Bravo and Germany's SAFIR-2
1998 July 28, 13:15 Moscow Time: Zenit-2 launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft announced as Kosmos-2360.
1998 Sept. 9 (10): Zenit-2 (Number 22L, 11K77.05, No. 18L) failed after the launch from Baikonur with 12 Globalstar cellular phone communications satellites. The cause of the failure was traced to the onboard flight control system. Before this failure Globalstar planned to launch two additional Zenit rockets with 12 satellites each.
The launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur on June 8, 1998, and was originally scheduled for launch on July 15, 1998. The rocket known as 11K77.05 lacked braking engines in the tail section of the second stage, since payloads would separate sideways from its launch dispenser. In addition, the second stage was equipped with the system allowing to depressurize the oxygen tank to avoid the explosion of the discarded stage after it releases its payload in orbit. For the same purpose, the launch was scheduled during night time to minimize the overheating of the stage.
The first stage of the Zenit-2 carried refurbished engines "cannibalized" from the cancelled Energia rocket. The interior of the payload fairing was covered by thin sheets of metal to optimize thermal environment for the payload. To complete the upgrades, a Globalstar logo was painted on the flight control section on the top of the second stage.
1999 March 27: The first Zenit-3SL rocket is launched successfully with a dummy satellite from the ocean-based Sea Launch platform.
1999 July 17: 08:37:59 Moscow Time, Zenit-2 successfully launched the Okean-O remote-sensing spacecraft from Baikonur.
1999 Oct. 9, , 2:15 p.m. PST: Zenit-3SL launched the Direct TV 1-R broadcast satellite from the Sea Launch floating platform located 154 degrees western longitude.
2000 Feb. 3: 12:26:00 Moscow Time, Zenit-2 successfully launched a Tselina-2 spacecraft officially announced as Kosmos-2369.
2000 March 12: 6:49 a.m. PST: Zenit-3SL failed to deliver ICO F-1 mobile communications satellite from the Sea Launch platform 230 miles from Kiritimati (Christmas Island) due to the loss of pressurization in the propellant tank of the second stage.
2000 July 28, 3:42 p.m. PDT: Zenit-3SL successfully returned to flight launching the PAS-9 communications satellite from the Sea Launch platform at 154 degrees Western longitude.
2000 Sept. 25: Zenit-2 successfully launched the Yenisei-2 imaging reconnaissance spacecraft.
2000 Oct. 21: Zenit-3SL successfully launched the Thuraya communications satellite from the Sea Launch floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.
2001 Jan. 8: An attempt to launch the Zenit-3SL rocket from the floating platform in Pacific was aborted only seconds before a scheduled blastoff due to payload malfunction. The incident had known no precedents in the history of Russian space program, a representative of the KB Yuzhnoe, based Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine said. Zenit-3SL with a US-built XM radio-broadcast satellite was at the final seconds in the countdown on January 8, when the payload controllers requested a delay.
The launch was scrubbed, but by that time the special membranes onboard the Zenit's first stage has already exploded to allow the propellant flow toward the main RD-171 engine. The move, known as irreversible operation, requires refurbishment of the engines, or replacement of the first stage before the rocket can be used again.
KB Yuzhnoe representative was clear in placing the blame for the incident on the payload. The western news reports this week made it look like the launch was scrubbed due to the damage of the Zenit rocket. "They (the payload controllers) reported the readiness for launch 30 and 5 minutes in the countdown, then, in the last second, when we started irreversible operations, they suddenly yelled "stop, stop," KB Yuzhnoe representative said. "They were lucky we did not launch a dead satellite," he added.
The Sea Launch officially said that only "minor out-of-specification condition was detected on the satellite."
2001 March 18, 2:33 p.m. Pacific Time: Zenit-3SL successfully launched XM-2 (Rock) radio-broadcast satellite from the Sea Launch platform.
2001 May 9, 01:10 Kiev Time (May 8 EST): Zenit-3SL successfully launched XM-1 Radio-1 (Roll) radio broadcast satellite from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.
2001 Dec. 10, 22:19 Baikonur Time: A Zenit-2 rocket launched the Meteor-3M No. 1 remote-sensing satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 45. Along with the 2,477-kilogram Meteor-3M, the rocket was carrying a cluster of international payloads with a total mass of 188 kilograms. It included Moroccan MAROCTUBSAT and Pakistani BADR-R satellites. Also onboard were the Compass spacecraft developed at KB Mashinostroenia in the city of Miass and designed to test the techniques of predicting earthquakes, and the Reflector experiment developed by NII KP design bureau and designed to monitor "space junk."
All five spacecraft were inserted into a 1020-kilometer orbit with an inclination 99 degrees toward the Equator.
This launch was originally expected in December of last year, however it was continuously delayed mainly due to the problem with the US-build SAGE-III instrument installed onboard the Meteor-3M. The previous launch dates included October and November 30, 2001. This was the 35th launch of the Zenit rocket from Baikonur.
2002 June 15, 22:39 GMT: The Zenit-3SL successfully launched the Galaxy-3C communications satellite from the Sea Launch platform stationed on the Equator at the point 154 degrees Western longitude.
2003 June 10: After a year-long lull in operations, the Sea Launch consortium successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit.
The Zenit 3SL rocket, built in Ukraine and Russia, blasted off from the Sea Launch platform, positioned in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean, at 1356 GMT on June 10, 2003. The rocket carried Thuraya 2 spacecraft designed to provide mobile telephone services in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. The spacecraft is expected to operate in the geostationary orbit.
2003 Aug. 8: Less then two months after its last mission, the Sea Launch consortium successfully delivered another communications satellite into orbit.
The Zenit-3SL rocket blasted off from the floating platform stationed in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator at 8:30:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on August 7 (0330:59 GMT, August 8). The booster carried a single communications satellite co-owned by EchoStar Communications Corporation and Loral Skynet, and therefore designated EchoStar-9/Telstar-13.
The Block DM-SL upper stage released the 4,737-kilogram payload into a geostationary transfer orbit and the spacecraft was expected to use its own propulsion system to enter its final geostationary orbit over the Equator, 121 degrees Western longitude.
2003 Oct. 1: The Sea Launch consortium successfully completed its third mission in 2003.
The Zenit-3SL rocket blasted off from the floating platform stationed in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator at 04:03 GMT on October 1, 2003. The booster carried a single communications satellite co-owned by US-based PanAmSat Corporation and Japanese JSAT corporation, and therefore designated Galaxy-13/Horizons-1.
The Block DM-SL upper stage released the 4,090-kilogram payload into a geostationary transfer orbit and the spacecraft was expected to use its own propulsion system to enter its final geostationary orbit over the Equator, at the longitude 127 degrees West.
2004 Jan. 11: The Sea Launch consortium successfully conducted the first space launch of 2004.
The Zenit-3SL rocket blasted off from the Odyssey floating platform stationed at 154 degrees West Longitude in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator on January 11, 2004 at 0413 GMT. The booster carried a single Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 communications satellite in geostationary orbit.
The spacecraft was built by Space Systems/Loral and is operated by Loral Skynet do Brasil. The spacecraft carries 41 high-powered Ku-band transponders with five unique and interconnecting coverage beams. The satellite is to serve growing markets such as broadcast video and cable programming, Internet backbone connectivity, VSAT data and other telecommunications services. More than fifty percent of the satellites power is focused on Brazil, providing dedicated Ku-band solutions for the Brazilian marketplace. The satellites other beams covers the Americas and the North Atlantic Ocean, where Connexion by Boeing will use the satellite to support its Internet-to-aircraft service. The mission was originally planned for launch in November 2003.
2004 May 4: Sea Launch Company today successfully delivered the DIRECTV 7S broadcast satellite to orbit from its ocean-based platform on the Equator, marking ten consecutive successes for this highly reliable system, the company's statement said. Early data indicate the spacecraft is in excellent condition.
The Sea Launch's Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 5:42 am PDT (12:42 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude, precisely on schedule. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,483 kg (12,063 lb.) DIRECTV 7S satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 119 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in Weilheim, Germany, acquired the spacecrafts first signal, shortly after spacecraft separation, as planned.
2004 June 10: A long-delayed military mission finally took off successfully from a Russian launch site in Kazakhstan. A Zenit-2 rocket (No. 1-95) carrying a classified payload for the Russian Ministry of Defense blasted off from Site 43 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 05:28 Moscow Time.
According to the Russian Space Forces, the spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 05:41 Moscow Time and successfully established radio contact with ground control. The payload was designated as Kosmos-2406. (The same designation had been previously assigned to a military payload, which was later renamed, freeing number 2406.)
According to North American Aerospace Defense, NORAD, Kosmos-2406 entered a 848 by 865-kilometer orbit, with an inclination of 71 degrees toward the Equator. Both, the altitude and inclination exactly match orbital parameters of the Tselina-2 series of electronic intelligence, ELINT, spacecraft. According to KB Yuzhnoe of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, the manufacturer of the Tselina satellites, the mass of Kosmos-2406 payload was 3,100 kilograms, which is close to known specifications for the Tselina-2 payload.
This mission was expected as early as mid-February 2004, as part of Security 2004 exercise, however did not take place. Technical problems reportedly delayed the mission again from February 28 and April 6.
On April 25, 2004, the countdown for the launch was scrubbed at T-55 minutes due to failure in the ground power supply system. On April 26, 2004, another problem in the ground launch equipment stopped at T-88 minutes preparations for a launch scheduled for 14:42 Moscow Time at T-88 minutes. The launch was then reportedly rescheduled to 02:46 on April 27, but never took place. The vehicle was then removed from the launch pad and returned to the assembly building. The mission was then rescheduled for June 5-15 period.
2004 June 28: Technical problems during the launch of the Zenit-3SL rocket from the ocean-floating platform left a commercial communications satellite in the wrong orbit, Tuesday, June 28, 2004.
The Sea Launch's Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 8:59 pm PDT (3:59 GMT , June 29), as scheduled, from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the Pacific Ocean, carrying Lorals Telstar 18 communications satellite. Two booster stages of the launch vehicle appeared to perform flawlessly, however problems apparently developed during two firings of the Block DM upper stage.
Sea Launch only said officially that the spacecraft was separated into a reduced apogee orbit and that a ground station in Perth, Australia, acquired the spacecrafts first signal, shortly after spacecraft separation. In the same statement, Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, said, We are still assessing the data and we are optimistic the spacecraft will achieve its specified lifespan on orbit. We are supporting our Loral customer in this assessment.
Unofficial reports showed that two firings of the Block D engine were 9 and 26 seconds shorter than planned, resulting in lower but recoverable orbit.
2005 Feb. 28: After several delays caused by bad weather, a Zenit-3SL rocket successfully launched a commercial payload from its ocean-floating platform on February 28, 2005.
The Sea Launch's Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 7:51 PST on February 28, 2005 (0351 GMT, March 1, 2005), from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the Pacific Ocean. The rocket carried the 4,703 kg XM-3 satellite into an optimized geosynchronous transfer orbit of 2468 km x 35786 km, on its way to an orbital location for routine testing. Later, the satellite was expected to move into a final orbital position at 85 degrees West Longitude.
A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft’s first signal an hour after liftoff, as planned, Sea Launch said.
Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, International, Inc., the XM-3 satellite is a 702 model spacecraft, designed to provide 18 kilowatts of total power at the beginning of its life. Like its sister spacecraft, XM-1 and XM-2 – also launched by Sea Launch - XM-3 was expected to transmit more than 150 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children's programming to subscribers across the continental United States.
The mission was previously planned for the fourth quarter of 2004.
2005 April 26: Sea Launch Company successfully delivered DIRECTVs Spaceway F1 satellite to orbit, completing the launch of the heaviest commercial satellite to date, the company said. According to Sea Launch, early data indicated the spacecraft was in excellent condition.
The Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 12:31:30 am PDT (07:31:30 GMT), as scheduled, from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 6,080 kg (13,376 lb) Spaceway satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position of 102.8 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecrafts first signal less than an hour after liftoff, as planned.
The Boeing 702 model spacecraft, with a design life of 12 years, was manufactured at Boeings Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif. It includes a flexible payload with a fully steerable downlink antenna that can be reconfigured on orbit to seamlessly address market conditions.
2005 June 23: The Zenit-3SL rocket has successfully sent a 5,500-kilogram Intelsat Americas-8 communications satellite on its way to a final geostationary position at 89 degrees West Longitude.
A Sea Launch's Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the Odyssey Launch Platform stationed at 154 degrees West Longitude at 7:03:00 am PDT, June 23, 2005. All phases of the flight profile performed as expected. Two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, the first stage of the Zenit-3SL vehicle separated and then the protective payload fairing was jettisoned. Five minutes later, the second stage separated from the Block DM upper stage. The upper stage burned for nearly eleven minutes, coasted for about ten minutes, and then separated from the spacecraft over Brazil, just 29 minutes after liftoff. A ground station in Fucino, Italy, acquired the spacecraft signal. All systems are operating nominally.
2005 Nov. 8: Sea Launch Company successfully delivered the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). Early data indicated the spacecraft was in excellent condition.
A Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off on November 8, 2005, at 6:07 am PT (14:07 GMT), from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,958 kg (13,108 lb.) satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position of 53 degrees West Longitude. A ground station at Lake Cowichan, in British Columbia, acquired the first signal from the satellite less than 25 minutes after spacecraft separation, as planned.
Inmarsat-4 is designed to provide high-speed mobile service to people throughout the Americas during its 13-year service life. It is one in a series of satellites designed to support the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) for high-speed delivery of Internet and intranet content and solutions, video-on-demand, videoconferencing, fax, e-mail, phone and LAN access.
One of a family of three similar spacecraft, this Inmarsat-4 F2 satellite carries a single global beam that covers up to a third of the Earth's surface, 19 wide spot beams and 228 narrow spot beams. It has a total end-of-life power of 13kW.
2006 Feb. 15: After two delays, the Sea Launch venture successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit. The Zenit-3SL rocket blasted off from Odyssey platform positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the Pacific Ocean at 23:35 GMT on February 15, 2006. The rocket carried the EchoStar X satellite toward its final geostationary orbit planned to be at 110 degrees West longitude.
A ground station in Uralla, Australia, acquired the first signal from the satellite, as planned.
The first launch attempt on February 8, 2006, was scrubbed shortly before launch due to "off-nominal indication from the Ground Support System" according to Boeing. Later bad weather forced to postpone another launch attempt scheduled for February 12, 2006.
2006 April 12: A Zenit-3SL vehicle (No. 21L) lifted off at 23:30 GMT on April 12, 2006, from the Odyssey Launch Platform, at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout flight, Sea Launch said. The Block DM upper stage inserted the 4401 kg (9703 lbs) JCSAT-9 satellite to GTO, on its way to a final orbital position of 132 degrees East Longitude. A ground station in Uralla, Australia, acquired the first signal from the satellite.
Built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS), the high-power hybrid A2100AX spacecraft carries C-band, Ku-band and S-band transponders and is designed for a minimum mission life of 12 years on orbit. JCSAT-9 joins nine other JSAT spacecraft currently in orbit, covering North America, Hawaii, Asia and Oceania with communications and broadcasting services for corporate and inter-company networks as well as international telecommunications services.
The rocket for this mission was originally built for Globalstar satellites, scheduled for launch on Sept. 19, 1998. The mission was cancelled after the launch failure on Sept. 9, 1998. Until April 1999, it was stored at Site 42 in Baikonur and then shipped back to the production plant to be refurbished.
2006 June 18: The Zenit launcher successfully delivered PanAmSat’s Galaxy-16 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, GTO. Early data indicate the spacecraft was accurately positioned and in excellent condition, Sea Launch company, which operates the vehicle, said.
A Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off at 12:50 am PDT (07:50 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout flight. The Block DM upper stage inserted the the 4,640 kg (10,229 lb) Loral 1300-series spacecraft, to geosynchronous transfer orbit, GTO, on its way to a final orbital position of 99 degrees West Longitude. A ground station at Hartebeesthoek, near Pretoria, South Africa, acquired the first signal from the satellite shortly after spacecraft separation.
Built by Space Systems/Loral, Galaxy 16 carries 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders, designed to meet the needs of a variety of broadcast customers in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. Galaxy 16 replaces Galaxy 4R and is the newest member of PanAmSat’s North American Galaxy fleet. With this mission, Sea Launch has now successfully launched four satellites for PanAmSat, including Galaxy 16, Galaxy 13/Horizons-1 in 2003, Galaxy 3C in 2002 and PAS-9 in 2000. This is Sea Launch's sixth mission with a spacecraft built by Space Systems/Loral.
2006 Aug 21 (Aug. 22 GMT): Sea Launch Company successfully delivered the Koreasat-5 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). Early data have indicated the spacecraft was accurately positioned and in excellent condition.
A Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off at 8:27 pm PDT on August 21, 2006 (03:27 GMT, Aug. 22) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout flight, Sea Launch company said. The Block DM upper stage inserted the 4,448 kg (9,806 lb) Spacebus 4000 C1 platform to GTO, on its way to a final orbital position of 113 degrees East Longitude. A ground station at Fucino, Italy, acquired the first signal from the satellite shortly after spacecraft separation.
Built by Alcatel Alenia Space for the KT Corporation and Korea's Agency for Defense Development, the hybrid multi-band satellite will be part of South Korea's new high-capacity Spacecom System over the Asia-Pacific. This is Sea Launch's fourth successful mission of 2006 – two additional missions were planned for 2006.
2006 Oct. 31: After a four-day delay by technical problems, the Zenit-3SL rocket successfully delivered its commercial payload.
Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off on October 30, 2006, at 3:49 pm Pacific Standard Time (23:49 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight, according to the Sea Launch venture.
The Block DM upper stage inserted the 5,193 kg (11,448 lbs.) XM-4 spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to final orbital position of 115 degrees West Longitude. A ground station at Hartebeesthoek, near Pretoria, South Africa, acquired the first signal from the satellite in orbit.
On October 26, 2006, the first launch attempt was postponed shortly before a scheduled liftoff, "due to off-nominal data from its automated launch support equipment," Sea Launch venture said. "Following the direction to stop the countdown, the launch team immediately implemented system safing and securing operations, according to procedure. Both the spacecraft and the launch vehicle were in excellent condition," Sea Launch's statement said, providing no additional details.
The launch was scheduled for October 26, 2006 at 23:49 GMT, with the launch window closing at 00:47 GMT on October 27.
XM-4 was the 4th Boeing 702 spacecraft manufactured at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif. - and orbited by Sea Launch - for XM Satellite Radio. The high-power S-band satellites had Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) payloads built by Alcatel Alenia Space, France, to broadcast state-of-the-art digital radio programming directly to cars, homes and portable radios throughout the continental United States and Canada. Designed for a 15-year lifespan, the XM-4 satellite had 18 kilowatts of total power at the beginning of life on orbit.
2007 Jan. 30: The Zenit-3SL rocket exploded at liftoff from the Sea Launch platform stationed in the Pacific Ocean Tuesday. According to witnesses, the RD-170 engine of the first stage had just ignited, followed by a tilt of the rocket and by the immediate fireball, which completely obscured the vehicle. The live webcast of the launch was cut off shortly thereafter. The mission, which was scheduled to lift off on January 30, 2007, at 23:22 GMT, (18:22 EST, 15:22 PST), was to deliver the NSS-8 communications satellite for New Skies company. The spacecraft was destroyed in the mishap.
2007 June 29: Russian military received a new "ear in the sky," launching a satellite designed to intercept electronic communications.
The Zenit-M rocket blasted off from Site 45 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on June 29, 2007, at 14:00 Moscow Time. In accordance with the usual practice for the Russian military launches, the payload was identified as a satellite from the Cosmos series (Kosmos-2428). No details on the goals of the mission was officially released, however it is widely believed that the Zenit rocket delivered its most frequent military payload - the Tselina-2 satellite.
According to official Russian media, Titov Main Test and Control Center of the Russian space forces had established contact with the satellite at 14:16:36 Moscow Time and all the systems onboard the spacecraft worked well.
The satellite is likely to be the last spacecraft in the series built by KB Yuzhnoe of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. The development of the new generation spacecraft for electronic intelligence had been apparently transferred to contractors inside Russia, after the fall of the Soviet Union. During the summit of Russian and Ukrainian head of states in 2001, they reportedly reached an agreement to complete the construction and launch of last two Tselina payloads. The first was sent aloft in 2004.
The latest launch was previously expected to take place in August-September 2006 and then it was postponed to December 16, 2006, January and February 14, 2007, and the beginning of the second quarter of 2007.
The Zenit-M rocket (also known as No. 1-2005), which has been used for the latest launch, differed from the standard Zenit-2 launcher by a modified first stage engine, known as RD-171M and capable of a delivering a five-percent increase in thrust, comparing to the standard RD-171 engine. The rocket also featured a different guidance system and a new main flight control computer, designated Biser-3. While lighter then the previous system, Biser-3 enables more accurate delivery of the payload into the orbit.
The rocket was originally built to deliver Globalstar satellites on December 19, 1998, however the mission was cancelled in the wake of the failure of a similar vehicle in 1998. The launch vehicle was then refurbished for the Zenit-M program, which Roskosmos considers a stepping stone toward the Zenit-3M vehicle. In combination with Block DM and Fregat upper stages and larger diameter payload fairing, Zenit-3M would be capable of delivering from 2 to 3.6 tons of payload to the geostationary orbit, according to Russian space agency, Roskosmos.
Sea Launch scrubs launch attempt, returns to home port
Published: 2007 Nov. 17; updated Nov. 19; 20; 21; 22; 27
A statement released by the company on the morning of November 21, 2007, said that it was "in the process of determining the next launch opportunity for the Thuraya-3 satellite." Such wording might be an indication that Sea Launch officials were facing a dilemma -- either to continue waiting at sea in the hope of better weather, or returning to the home port for a costly turnaround.
According to unofficial reports, the mission was delayed by three days and the launch vehicle was lowered into the horizontal position and removed from the launch pad.
After waiting at sea for another three days, Sea Launch announced on Nov. 27, 2007, that its vessels were returning to the home port.
The Zenit-3SL rocket was scheduled to blast off from the Odyssey platform stationed in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean on November 21, 2007, around 7:25 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, (15:25 GMT). The rocket is carrying the 5,180-kilogram Thuraya-3 communications satellite for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company, based in the United Arab Emirates.
This would be the first mission for the Sea Launch venture since the January 31 launch failure, which destroyed the rocket and its payload, as well as damaged the floating launch platform, just seconds after blastoff. Shortly after the accident, a video of the rocket collapsing and exploding below the platform had become one of the post popular features on the YouTube web site.
At the beginning of March 2007, a statement by KB Yuzhnoe, the Zenit manufacturer, promised the return to flight in the summer-fall 2007. The launch was later expected on Oct. 28, 2007.
In the preparation for the return to flight, the Odyssey launch platform and the Sea Launch Commander ship left the port of Long Beach on Nov. 1, 2007. At the time, the launch was scheduled for Nov. 13 or 14, 2007. After the platform had arrived to the launch area, high winds and strong currents forced to scrub launch attempts on Nov. 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, at 7:37 a.m. and Nov. 20 at 7:29 Pacific Time.
Sea Launch returns to flight
Published: 2008 Jan. 15
The Zenit-3SL rocket blasted off from the Odyssey platform stationed in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 15, 2008, at 11:49 GMT. It carried the 5,180-kilogram Thuraya-3 communications satellite for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company, based in the United Arab Emirates.
According to unofficial reports, the mission went flawlessly, with orbital insertion and two firings of the Block DM upper stage completed.
2008 March 19: The Sea Launch international venture successfully delivered a broadcast satellite into orbit from an ocean-based platform on the Equator, the company announced.
A Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off on March 19, 2008, at 3:48 pm PDT (22:48 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude, as scheduled. According to Sea Launch, all systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,923-kilogram DIRECTV 11 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 99.2 degrees West Longitude. Acquisition of the spacecraft’s first signals from orbit were expected later.
The DIRECTV 11 satellite is based on Boeing's 702-series platform, and according to the manufacturer, it is among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites built to date.
2008 April 28: The Zenit-3SLB, a variation of the Sea Launch-based launch vehicle, flew its first mission from Kazakhstan. The rocket equipped with a DM-SLB upper stage blasted off from Site 45 in Baikonur on April 28, 2008 at 09:00 Moscow Time. It carried Israel's AMOS-3 communications satellite.
According to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, the launch went flawlessly and the satellite was released into its planned orbit.
The mission was previously expected in the fourth quarter of 2007 and wa later rescheduled to March 12, 2008. It was also scrubbed by technical problems on April 24, 2008.
2008 May 21: The Sea Launch international venture launched a communications satellite into orbit from an ocean-based platform on the Equator, the company announced.
A Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off on May 21, 2008, at 09:43 GMT from the Odyssey Launch Platform. The Block DM-SL upper stage successfully completed its first burn, sending the Galaxy 18 satellite for the Intelsat consortium toward its into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position. Sea Launch confirmed that both burns of the upper stage were successful.
The mission was delayed from May 13, 2008. The postponement was attributed to bad weather in the launch area.
2008 July 15: The EchoStar XI broadcast satellite was successfully launched from its ocean-based platform on the Equator, marking its fourth successful mission of 2008 and its third mission for DISH Network, the Sea Launch company announced.
According to the company, the Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 10:21 p.m. Pacific Decree Time on July 15, 2008 (05:21 GMT, July 16) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude.
One hour later, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,511 kg (12,150 lb) EchoStar XI satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 110 degrees West Longitude. Operators at the Gnangara ground station in Perth, Australia, acquired the spacecraft’s first signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the mission, Sea Launch said.
2008 Sept. 24: The Sea Launch venture conducted a successful launch of the Galaxy 19 communications satellite, the company announced.
According to Sea Launch, the Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off on Sept. 24, 2008, at 2:28 a.m. PDT (09:28 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude. Just over an hour later, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 4,690 kg (10,340 lb) Galaxy 19 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Operators at the Hartebeesthoek ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the mission, Sea Launch said.
Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the 1300-series hybrid spacecraft carries a total of 52 physical transponders. The Galaxy 19 satellite will provide Intelsat customers 50-state coverage, as well the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. It will be located at 97 degrees West Longitude.
2009 Feb. 26: The Zenit-3SLB rocket with the Block DM-SLB upper stage lifted off from Site 45 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 21:30 Moscow Time on Feb. 26, 2009. It carried 4,010-kilogram Telstar 11N communications satellite for the commercial company Telesat of Canada.
Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) from 1300-series platform, the satellite is equipped with 39 Ku-band transponders and is designated to work in the position 37.5 degrees West longitude over the Equator, to provide multimedia services in Central and North America, Europe, Africa and as well as for sea and air carriers over the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the second launch for the multinational consortium operating the Zenit rocket and its launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, to deliver commercial payloads into the geostationary orbit. The first mission of the Land Launch in April 2008 delivered its payload into a slightly incorrect orbit, resulting in shortening of the operational life of a commercial satellite.
In the meantime, Land Launch’s second mission experienced a number of delays on the ground. As of beginning of October 2008, the original launch date at the end of 2008 was dependent on the departure from Baikonur of another satellite -- Measat 1R satellite, which was severely damaged in the pre-launch processing incident. The spacecraft went through de-fueling process, but had to be decontaminated and certified for the return to the US. At the time, Telstar 11N was expected to be shipped to Baikonur in mid-November 2008.Measat 1R finally departed from Baikonur on Nov. 6, 2008, and safely arrived to the US a day later. In order for Telstar to meet the launch window opening on Dec. 21, 2008, it had to be delivered to Baikonur on Nov. 15, 2008. Otherwise, the mission could be delayed as far as the end of March - beginning of April 2009. The launch was ultimately re-scheduled for February 26, 2009.
2009 April 20: The Zenit 3SL rocket successfully delivered the SICRAL 1B communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, for Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company, based in Rome, Sea launch company announced. The rocket lifted off on April 20, 2009, at 08:16 GMT. carrying the dual-use Italsat 3000 spacecraft, with a mass of 3,038 kg (6,697 lb). Built by Thales Alenia Space, the satellite is designed to provide communications services for the Italian Ministry of Defense, NATO and allied nations.
2009 June 22: The Zenit-2SB rocket lifted off on June 22, 2009, at 01:50 Moscow Time from Baikonur's Site 45. The vehicle carried the Measat-3a communications satellite for Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Russian space agency, eight minutes and 30 seconds after the launch, the Block DM-SLB upper stage and its payload successfully separated from the launch vehicle. According to the Land Launch venture, which markets Zenit missions from Baikonur, the satellite's separation took place at 04:14:47 GMT (08:14 Moscow Time). Spacecraft health has been checked (Telemetry and Command) with nominal results, the company's statement said.
A 2,366-kilogram Measat-3a satellite, (previously designated as Measat-1R) carries 12 Ku-band and 12 C-band transponders and features three antennas to provide C-band fixed satellite services across the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Australia; and Ku-band direct-to-home television broadcasting to Malaysia and Indonesia. It was built by Orbital Science Corporation.
On Aug. 9, 2008, in Baikonur, during processing of the satellite for launch then scheduled for Aug. 21, 2008, it was seriously damaged by a crane, which hit the spacecraft's antenna, requiring its repairs at the manufacturer's facilities in the US. By the beginning of October 2008, the satellite was drained of its toxic propellants and was going through decontamination and certification process to return it to the OSC factory in US. As of the end of October 2008, the return to the US was scheduled for Nov. 6, 2008, with the launch from Baikonur in the Spring of 2009. The shipment of the satellite from Baikonur did take place as scheduled on Nov. 6, 2008, and it safely arrived to the US a day later. The satellite was expected to be shipped to a decontamination facility in New Mexico before returning to the manufacturing plant for repair. At the time, it was scheduled to return to Baikonur in March 2009 and fly in April 2009. By the end of January 2009, the launch was re-scheduled for June-July 2009 period, however these plans conflicted with the scheduled launch of the Intelsat 15 satellite. The final decision was expected to be based on the progress of Measat's repairs. Finally, by the end of February 2009, it was announced that the mission would take place in June 2009.
2009 Nov. 30: The Land Launch successfully completed the launch of the Intelsat 15 communications satellite for Intelsat, Ltd., the world’s leading provider of fixed satellite services. All systems performed as planned, the company's statement said.
A Zenit-3SLB vehicle lifted off the from Site 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Nov. 30, 2009, at 00:00 Moscow Time (Nov. 29, 21:00 GMT), carrying the 2,484-kilogram Intelsat 15 satellite. About six-and-a-half hours later, the satellite separated from the Block DM-3SLB upper stage, inserting the Intelsat 15 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. A ground station acquired the first signals from orbit shortly before separation.
Orbital Sciences built the satellite for Intelsat, to provide video and data services for customers operating in the Middle East and Indian Ocean regions as well as in Russia. Following on-orbit testing, the satellite was to be positioned at 85 degrees East Longitude, replacing the Intelsat 709 satellite.
Orbital’s STAR-2.4 spacecraft platform carries a Ku-band payload that will produce 4.6 kW of DC power and features advanced antennas, including two 2.3 meter dual-grid deployable antennas as well as a 1.4 meter dual-grid deck-mounted antenna. The Intelsat 15 satellite is expected to have a useful life on orbit of at least 17 years.
The mission was delayed from second quarter of 2009.
2011 Jan. 20: The first major spacecraft developed in the post-Soviet Russia blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday, promising to pave the way to a whole new generation of space projects. A Zenit-3SLBF rocket blasted off on January 20, 2011, at 15:29:01 Moscow Time, carrying Elektro–L No. 1 weather-forecasting satellite. According to launch broadcast around 10 minutes after the liftoff, the vehicle successfully reached its initial parking orbit. Russian space agency, Roskosmos, confirmed that the spacecraft has entered orbit.
2011 July 18: A Zenit rocket carrying the Spektr-R satellite lifted off into cloudless sky as scheduled on July 18, 2011, at 06:31:14.358 Moscow Summer Time (10:31 p.m. EST Sunday) from Site 45 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The shutdown of Zenit's second stage main engine was confirmed 430 seconds after the liftoff, followed by the normal burn and a shutdown of the steering engines of the stage until a 520th second in flight. The Fregat upper stage and the Spektr-R stack then separated in its initial parking orbit. Following further maneuvers, Fregat released Spektr-R in a seemingly correct orbit, ushering a new era in the Russian space science.
2011 Sept. 24: After a more than two-year hiatus, the Sea Launch venture returned to operation with a blastoff of the communications satellite from its ocean-based platform Saturday.
The Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off as scheduled on Sept. 24, 2011, at 13:18 Pacific Time (20:18 GMT) at the opening of a 74-minute launch window. The rocket is carrying the 4,600-kilogram Atlantic Bird 7 communications satellite build by EADS Astrium for Eutelsat Communications of Paris, France.
Zenit's first two stages were reported to work as scheduled some 10 minutes after the liftoff. The Block DM-SL upper stage completed its first engine firing and entered a 37-minute passive period before igniting again. The second engine firing of the Block DM also started as planned and its was completed successfully 57 minutes after the liftoff. The separation of the Atlantic Bird 7 from the upper stage took place nine minutes after the maneuver or an hour and seven minutes after the launch. The satellite established contact with its ground station in South Korea as planned, within 12 minutes after starting an autonomous flight.
The upper stage released the satellite into the high-perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit. In the next few days, the spacecraft would have to conduct three firings with its own propulsion unit to enter its final geostationary orbit located at 7 degrees West longitude over the Equator. The spacecraft was designed to function for 15 years, providing Eutelsat’s digital broadcasting services in the Middle East and North Africa.
In preparation for the mission, the Sea Launch floating platform left the port of Long Beach, California, on the night from September 8 to September 9, and the Sea Launch Commander launch control vessel followed it on September 11. Both arrived to the launch area at 154 degrees West longitude on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean at 22:40 Pacific Time on Sept. 20, 2011.
2011 Oct. 5: A Ukrainian-built rocket embarked on another mission to deliver a commercial communications satellite into orbit just 11 days after its previous launch.
A Zenit-3SLB rocket with the Block-DM-SLB upper stage operated by Land Launch venture lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 45 on October 6, 2011, at 01:00:02 Moscow Summer Time (05:00 EST on October 5).
The launch vehicle was carrying the Intelsat-18 communications satellite into the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Equator.
According to the flight program, a Block DM-SLB upper stage and its payload would separate from the second stage of the Zenit booster at 01:08:27 Moscow Time on the same day. Block DM would then conduct three firings of its engine, with the separation of the satellite scheduled for 07:34:28 Moscow Summer Time.
Eight minutes after the launch, a normal separation of Block DM from the second stage of the launch vehicle had been confirmed.
On the evening of Oct. 5, Intelsat S.A. announced that a Sea Launch AG-provided Land Launch Zenit-3SLB vehicle successfully launched the Intelsat 18 satellite from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. The acquisition of the satellite's signal took place at 11:34 p.m. EDT (03:34 GMT) on Oct. 5, 2011.
Built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the satellite will provide capacity to enable enhanced DTH coverage and network services capabilities via Ku-band and C-band platforms. Once operational in November, it will replace Intelsat 701 at 180ºE and is expected to have a useful life of nearly 17 years, Intelsat said.
“Intelsat 18 will provide the infrastructure for customers to deliver media content directly to homes throughout the Pacific Ocean region, as well as broadband services to government and commercial users,” said Intelsat CEO David McGlade. “Intelsat’s strategy aligns our fleet investments to support our customers’ growth needs. The Intelsat 18 payload includes a Ku-band beam designed to meet the requirements of Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT) of French Polynesia. The customer will use this beam to provide new broadband, expand its domestic DTH service and improve its infrastructure across French Polynesia, with the ability to serve the South Pacific.” OPT currently provides services to the Pacific Ocean region on Intelsat 701.
The success of the mission cleared the way to the use of the Zenit rocket for a historic launch of the Phobos-Grunt probe, Russia's first deep-space mission in 15 years.
On Tuesday, the launch had been delayed for 24 hours on the request from the customer, the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, said. According to industry sources, telemetry showed that one of two antennas onboard the satellite had anomalous fluctuations in frequency during its testing at maximum power.
Due to production delays, Intelsat-18 needed the rocket originally intended for the Spektr-R satellite in order to fly in the summer of 2011. Otherwise, the launch would have to be delayed to the end of 2011 - beginning of 2012, when the additional Zenit was expected to become available. The satellite's owner, Intelsat, apparently needed to launch during the summer of 2011 in order to preserve its registration of an orbital position, which was about to expire. The company reportedly offered Land launch a very generous financial incentive in order to move the Intelsat-18 mission at the top of its launch manifest. As of middle of May 2011, sources within commercial launch industry said that Intelsat-18 was being prepared for launch in the summer of 2011, ahead of Spektr-R. At the same time, sources at Zenit's manufacturer in Ukraine said that negotiations were ongoing on the transfer of a second in the pair of Zenit rockets intended for the Sea Launch venture. In case of the delivery of the RD-171 engine for this vehicle in June, the launch could take place in September-October 2011.
2011 Nov. 9: A two-stage Zenit rocket (Zenit-2SB41.1) lifted off from Site 45 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Nov. 9, 2011, at 00:16:02.871 Moscow Time (20:16 GMT, 3:16 p.m. EST, on November 8) carrying Phobos-Grunt spacecraft toward Mars.
2012 June 1: The Sea Launch venture delivered another satellite for its major customer - Intelsat. The Zenit-2S rocket lifted off from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean as planned on June 1, 2012, at 09:23:55 Moscow Time (05:23 GMT).
The vehicle carried the 5,600-kilogram Intelsat-19 communications satellite.
According to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, the mission proceeded as planned and the payload separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 10:23 Moscow Time on the same day. However within 24 hours after the launch, the Intelsat disclosed that one of a pair of solar panels onboard the satellite had failed to deploy, repeating problems with other Space Systems/Loral spacecraft.
Based on the Space Systems/Loral's 1300E high-power platform, Intelsat-19 was to provide service to high-growth markets around the Pacific rim, including Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and US west coast, from its orbital location of 166 degrees East longitude.
In preparation for this mission, the Sea Launch vessels departed their home port of Long Beach, California, on May 20.
On Sept. 10, 2012, Sea Launch announced the formation of a three-person Independent Oversight Board to oversee the ongoing investigation into the root cause of an anomaly on a recently launched satellite. The Independent Oversight Board was to comprise of impartial industry experts, nominated by the two companies. The group would guide the joint SS/L-Sea Launch investigation team, which has been working together for several weeks to collect and analyze data with the objective of determining the root cause of damage to one solar array Intelsat-19.
Instrument data showed an unexpected, isolated event around 72 seconds after liftoff, which registered on sensors on the rocket. Following the launch, Loral and Sea Launch each conducted independent investigations to examine and analyze spacecraft and launch vehicle build records, ground test data and flight telemetry data, including readings from accelerometers, pressure sensors, and microphones in the payload compartment. Those analyses identified no shortcomings in the build quality or ground testing, but so far have not identified the root cause of the anomaly.
The Independent Oversight Board and the joint Loral-Sea Launch team was expected over the coming weeks to consolidate the results of their independent investigations and to identify additional analyses and tests to be performed. With the Independent Oversight Board driving the effort, the goal was to identify the root cause of the anomaly within three months' time, Sea Launch said.
2012 Aug. 19: A Zenit-3SL rocket successfully launched the Intelsat-21 communications satellite from the Sea Launch floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. Liftoff occurred at 10:54:59 Moscow Time and at 11:03:29 Moscow Time, the DM-SL upper stage and its payload separated from the second stage of the Zenit rocket and ten seconds later fired its engine which worked until 11:15:16 Moscow Time. Thirty minutes after the launch, at 11:25:06 Moscow Time (3:25 a.m. EDT), the Intelsat-21 satellite separated from the upper stage into a 276 by 35,965-kilometer equatorial orbit and continued its ascent toward geosynchronous orbit. Signal acquisition occurred at 3:52 a.m. EDT.
In July 2009, Intelsat announced that it had awarded a contract to built its Intelsat-21 satellite to Boeing's satellite division. Scheduled for launch during 2012, Intelsat-21 would be placed into a geostationary orbit at 302 degrees East longitude, where it would replace Intelsat 9 and work for the next 15 or 18 years.
The 5.984-kilogram spacecraft became the second of four ordered spacecraft based on Boeing's 702MP "medium-power" platform. It carried 24 C-band transponders to provide communications services over the Western hemisphere and 36 Ku-band transponders focused on Brazil and mobile systems. The satellite was to provide high-capacity video service to media customers in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also was to offer South Atlantic coverage for customers engaged in mobile operations such as shipping and air traffic, as part of Intelsat's global Ku-band coverage scheduled for completion in early 2013.
As one of the strongest supporters of the Sea Launch venture, Intelsat ordered the launch from the company, which had emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. A Russian team supporting the processing of Block-DM-SL upper stage of the Zenit rocket left for the US on June 25, 2012, and the satellite arrived to the company's home port of Long Beach on June 29. At the time, the launch was scheduled for August 16, 2012, at 10:56:00 Moscow Summer Time at the beginning of a 58-minute window. On August 7, the Sea Launch announced that the launch was now planned for August 17 at 06:56 GMT (August 16, 23:56 Pacific Time, PDT). The floating platform arrived to the launch area at 154 degrees West longitude in the Pacific Ocean on August 14, initiating a 72-hour countdown for the liftoff. However on August 16, the launch had to be postponed for at least 24 hours due to technical problems with avionics of the launch equipment supporting the satellite. The new launch attempt was scheduled for August 19, at 10:55 Moscow Time (August 18, 23:55 Pacific Time).
2012 Dec. 3: A Zenit-3SL rocket launched the Eutelsat-70B communications satellite (formerly Eutelsat W5A) from the Sea Launch platform in the Pacific Ocean. The liftoff took place at 12:43:59.237 Pacific Time (3:43 p.m. EST, 20:43 GMT).
Ground control confirmed normal separation of the Block-DM-SL upper stage at its payload from the Zenit's second stage and the beginning of the first engine firing onboard Block DM-SL. The first burn was also successful placing the satellite into the initial parking orbit. The second burn of Block-DM-SL was conducted successfully and the spacecraft was released as planned.
The launch was originally planned for Dec. 4, 2012, however it was later advanced to Dec. 3 and Dec. 2, 2012. On November 21, Sea Launch reported that its vessels had departed a port of Long Beach. However by November 27, the launch was delayed to December 3 at 12:43:55 Pacific time (20:43 GMT) due to a delay with the arrival of vessels to the launch area.
2013 Sept. 1: Seven months after its failed launch from an ocean-based launch pad, the Zenit rocket successfully returned to flight from Kazakhstan with a successful launch of the AMOS-4 communications satellite.
2014 May 26: The Sea Launch SA company successfully delivered Eutelsat-3B satellite into orbit today from at its ocean-based platform Odyssey during its 36th mission.
According to Sea Launch, the Zenit-3SL rocket carrying the spacecraft lifted off on May 26, 2014, at 14:09:59 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) (21:09:59 UTC, 23:09:59 CEST on May 27) from the launch platform, positioned at 154 degrees West longitude in the Pacific Ocean. One hour later, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the satellite, weighing 5,967 kilograms into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 3 degrees East longitude. Eutelsat acquired the spacecraft’s first signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the launch mission.
Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform of Airbus Defence and Space, the Eutelsat-3B satellite has been designed to operate three commercial payloads in the C, Ku and Ka bands. This tri-band configuration will deliver exceptional levels of in-orbit flexibility and coverage from Eutelsat’s expanding 3° East neighourhood. The satellite will enable Eutelsat to diversify its commercial response to Internet Service Providers, telcos, government agencies and broadcasters operating in Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Eutelsat-3B has a designed in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years.
The launch vehicle headed east and slightly north along an available flight path to align with an orbit tilted 50.4 degrees relative to the Equatorial plane. Zenit's first stage separated two minutes 25 seconds into the flight and eight and half minutes after liftoff, the rocket's second stage inserted the Fregat-SB and Elektro-L2 into a 554.1 by 167.1-kilometer parking orbit.
Next chapter: Missions of the Zenit rocket in 2013
This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak
Last update: December 11, 2015
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One of the early versions of the Zenit rocket on the launch pad in Baikonur circa 1980s or 1990s. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe
A Zenit rocket explodes moments after liftoff on Oct. 4, 1990, during its 15th mission, leading to a destruction of one of two launch pads in Baikonur. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe
A Zenit-2 booster blasts off from Baikonur's Site 45 carrying a Yenisei-2 classified imaging satellite.
The Zenit-3SL rocket launches Telstar 18 on June 28, 2004. Credit: Boeing
The Zenit-3SL rocket launches Koreasat 5 on Aug. 22, 2006. Credit: Sea Launch
The Zenit rocket with the NSS-8 comsat explodes on the Sea Launch pad on Jan. 30, 2007. Credit: Sea Launch
A Zenit rocket with Elektro-L satellite is being erected on the launch pad in Baikonur in January 2011. Credit: Roskosmos
Artist rendering of Block DM-SL and its Atlantic Bird 7 satellite payload during the engine burn on Sept. 24, 2011. Credit: Eutelsat
A Zenit rocket with an Intelsat-18 is being rollout out to the launch pad on Oct. 2, 2011. Credit: RKK Energia
A Zenit rocket with Intelsat-18 several hours before planned liftoff on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
Zenit is being loaded with propellant ahead of its launch on Oct. 5, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
Zenit minutes before launch on Oct. 5, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
Zenit lifts off on Oct. 5, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
A Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt spacecraft is being rolled out to the launch pad on Nov. 6, 2011. Credit: Roskosmos
A Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt awaits its historic liftoff shortly after its rollout to the launch pad on November 6, 2011. Credit: Roskosmos
First live TV images of the Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt spacecraft hours before scheduled liftoff on Nov. 9, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
The Zenit rocket during fueling on Nov. 9, 2011. Credit: TsENKI
A Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt spacecraft lifts off shortly after midnight on Nov. 9, 2011, Moscow Time. Credit: TsENKI
Zenit lifts off with Elektro-L2 on Dec. 11, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos