Sea Launch – success on third attempt

by Chris Bergin

A Zenit-3SL launch vehicle has blasted off on its third attempt to launch the EchoStar X spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer orbit today, following two scrubs.

Following scrubbed attempts on February 8 and 12, SeaLaunch had an on-time launch from their Odyssey Launch Platform at 23:35 UK time tonight (6:35pm Eastern).

Click here for live update thread with images and info.


Problems with the ground support systems stopped the first attempt to launch the Zenit-3SL on Feb 8, while an unspecified technical issue put pay to their next window of opportunity two days later.

Tonight’s attempt will be carried live on the SeaLaunch website.

The 4333 kg (9,553 lb) EchoStar X spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is a high-power KU Band A2100-AX satellite with a service life of 15 years on orbit. Optimized for direct broadcast applications, EchoStar X is a new-generation satellite that will enable DISH Network to deliver expanded services for distribution of direct-to-home broadcast services to its US customers.

From its equatorial launch site at 154 degrees West Longitude, a Zenit-3SL launch vehicle will lift the EchoStar X spacecraft to a high perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit for its ultimate orbital location at 110 degrees West Longitude.

Lifting off from the Odyssey Launch Platform, the Zenit-3SL rocket will begin its ascent phase of flight. The first stage of the vehicle will separate two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, and then the protective payload fairing will be jettisoned a minute later.

Following a six-minute burn, the second stage will separate from the Block DM upper stage. The Block DM will then execute a five-minute burn and then shutdown for a 33-minute coast period. The Block DM will ignite a second time for a five-and-a-half minute burn. After another coast lasting nearly 10 minutes, the Block DM will separate from the spacecraft, above the East Coast of Africa.

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