Sea Launch fallout – two more satellites switch to Ariane

by Chris Bergin

Intelsat have cancelled two launches that were initially manifested with the Sea Launch Company’s Land Launch wing, following the failure of the Zenit 3SL in January.

Sea Launch – which provides contracting and management functions for the Launch Land systems – share commonality with their versions of the Zenit 3SL launch vehicle. Intelsat’s Horizon 2 and Intelsat 11 will now be launches via Ariane 5 later this year.

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With the investigation into the Zenit 3SL still ongoing, the resulting grounding also ensures delays to Land Launch’s modified version of the Zenit vehicle, the three-stage Zenit-3SLB.

Although Sea Launch’s president Rob Peckham noted that he expects a return to flight for the Zenit 3SL to occur later this year, Intelsat’s increased customer demand has forced them to act, moving their satellite launches to Arianespace.

The switch to their major rival follows the loss of the Hughes Network Systems, LCC contract for the SPACEWAY 3 satellite, which also moved to Ariane 5 back at the start of March.

‘At this juncture, Intelsat has eight satellites under construction, with three to four of them slated to launch this year, starting with Galaxy 17 in May. Its launch will be followed by those of Intelsat 11, Horizons-2 and, possibly, Galaxy 18,’ confirmed Jim Frownfelter, Intelsat’s chief operating officer, quoted by Reed Business Information.

‘The current launch schedule for our satellites has been shuffled due to the widely reported disruptions in the launch-service industry and, as a result, has impacted our cap-ex plan.

‘(The Sea Launch failure) caused us to accelerate the build of a contingent satellite,’ Frownfelter noted, adding that they have placed orders for two additional replacement satellites and one ground-spare satellite ‘It is a ground spare and is positioned as fast replacement for Intelsat 11 in event that its launch is unsuccessful.’

Intelsat II and Horizon 2 are expected to launch on an Ariane 5 this September.

Also noted in Intelsat’s plans is accelerating the replacement of satellite Intelsat 709 by Intelsat 15 – thus increasing the capacity of Intelsat 14.


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