Sea Launch/Koreasat 5 – Launch Success

by Chris Bergin

Sea Launch have returned to action late tonight, with the launch of their Zenit-3SL vehicle at 8:27pm PDT (03:27 GMT, Aug. 22) carrying the Koreasat 5 military communications satellite.

After a ride uphill, two burns of the Block DM upperstage placed the spacecraft into its transfer orbit, seperating successfully 65 minutes after launch. Free hi-res video of the launch is available.

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‘This has been another extreemly successful Sea Launch mission, and I extend my thanks to everybody that brought us to this milestone event,’ said Sea Launch President Rob Peckham, noting his pleasure in seeing another successful launch by his company.

 “We take great pride in successfully delivering South Korea’s first dual-use spacecraft. At Sea Launch, we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations and build collaborative relationships built on honesty and trust.

“I want to extend our thanks to everyone involved in achieving this milestone event. In particular, I want to thank our partners and contractors and the entire Sea Launch team for continuing to build our legacy, one successful launch, one satisfied customer at a time.”

Built by the French-Italian company Alcatel Alenia, the spacecraft, tagged ‘Mugunghwa 5’, will be heading for target orbit of 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles).

The full range of capabilities of the 4465 kg (9,844 lb) spacecraft will provide advanced broadband multimedia and digital television transmission services, as well as military and conventional telecom services to operators in the Asia-Pacific region.

Koreasat 5 will be South Korea’s first combined civil and military communications satellite. Alcatel Space will supply both the multimission satellite and its ground control system, along with launch and early operations phase (LEOP) support.

Based on the new-generation Spacebus-4000C1 platform from Alcatel Space, Koreasat 5 will feature a state-of-the-art broadband payload, including new technologies developed within the scope of the Syracuse III program.

With 36 transponders in Ku-band, C-band (civil) and SHF band (military), Koreasat 5 will deliver advanced broadband multimedia and digital television transmission services, along with conventional telecom services to operators in the Asia-Pacific region.

The launch was scheduled for earlier in the month, but following a short delay, the Sea Launch team have arrived at their Pacific Ocean.

Launch outline

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 lift-off, 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.

Sea Launch is a international consortium consisting of Boeing, Norway’s Kvaerner Group, Russia’s RSC Energia, and Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye design bureau and Yuzhmash production association.


In other news, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (
STEREO) launch has been postponed to no earlier than Sept. 18, the opening of the mission’s next launch window.

The additional time is necessary for further evaluation of the Delta II second stage to verify it is structurally sound for flight. This concern arose after further engineering analysis revealed that a similar tank produced for another mission was marginally thin in an area of the oxidizer tank.

Engineers are assessing several options for the STEREO launch vehicle at Pad 17-B to determine the thickness of the tank in this same area.

STEREO was not transported from Astrotech to the launch pad over the weekend as planned. It will remain at the payload processing facility until the necessary course of action for the Delta II can be more clearly defined.

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