Sea Launch Zenit 3SL launches with Galaxy 18

by Chris Bergin

A Sea Launch Zenit 3SL has launched with Galaxy 18 – a new Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) satellite for the PanAmSat Corporation – into a geosynchronous transfer orbit from its equatorial launch site in the Pacific ocean. Launch was on time at 2:43am PDT. covered the launch as a live event, with background, images, live updates and free launch video (now uploaded), available on the links below (read more).

L2 Resources: 300mb of exclusive Sea Launch failure aftermath images. Zenit Launch Vehicle Manual and Payload Planner’s Guide (over 20 vehicles in total), plus more. Extended 120mb Galaxy 18 launch video available also.

**Sea Launch FAILURE Pages (live and follow-up with images** – Over 280,000 reads.

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Mission background:

The Zenit 3SL is a hybrid concept developed by RSC Energia, which was originally designed to replace the Proton K/DM vehicle. The two stage Zenit features a modified Russian Block DM upper stage.

From its equatorial launch site at 154 degrees West Longitude, a Zenit-3SL launch vehicle will lift the Galaxy 18 spacecraft to geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital location at 123 degrees West Longitude.

The first stage of the vehicle will separate two-and-a-half minutes after lift-off and the protective payload fairing will jettison 75 seconds later. After operating for six minutes, the second stage will separate from the Block DM upper stage. The Block DM upper stage will then operate for nine-and-a-half minutes.

Following a 30-minute coast period, the Block DM will burn a second time for three minutes. After the second burn, and another 10-minute coast, the spacecraft will separate from the upper stage over the west coast of Africa.

Ground stations at Hartebeestok in South Africa, and in Fucino, Italy, will be tracking the spacecraft to acquire its first signals soon after spacecraft separation

This will be the third launch since Sea Launch returned to flight in January – following the failed launch which occurred with the NSS-8 communications satellite for SES New Skies, after the vehicle exploded on the launch pad, destroying both the vehicle and satellite.

That initial RTF success came via the launch of the Thuraya 3 telecommunications satellite for the United Arab Emirates – a year after the NSS-8 failure. It was soon followed by March success of the DIRECTV 11 HD TV launch.

Built by Space Systems/Loral, Galaxy 18’s hybrid communications payload will carry a total of 48 operating transponders, including 24 high-power Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders. The satellite is designed to operate from PanAmSat’s 123 degrees West orbital location.

Weighing in at 4,642 kg (10,234 lb), this satellite will enable Intelsat to provide advanced cable television, data and telecommunications services to customers throughout North America, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

The satellite is based on SS/L’s flight-proven, 1300, geostationary satellite platform, which has a long and proven record of reliable operation. Currently, there are 48 SS/L 1300 satellites on orbit, performing a variety of critical communications functions.

‘We are pleased to once again be selected by PanAmSat to build an important piece of its global network,’ noted Patrick DeWitt, president, Space Systems/Loral, at the time of the contract award to build Galaxy 18.

‘Because of SS/L’s cost-effective integration of advanced satellite features with high performance, space-proven technology, PanAmSat will be able to deliver highly competitive and reliable services to their customers.’

Through its owned and operated fleet of 23 satellites, PanAmSat in-orbit fleet of 23 birds is capable of reaching over 98 percent of the world’s population through cable television systems, broadcast affiliates, direct-to-home operators, Internet service providers and telecommunications companies.

In addition, PanAmSat supports the largest concentration of satellite-based business networks in the U.S., as well as specialized communications services in remote areas throughout the world.

‘Galaxy 18 will provide our customers valuable 50-state coverage and reach Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, operating in a powerhouse role, delivering some of the most popular programming to millions of American homes,’ added Intelsat, Ltd. CEO David McGlade. 

‘This is the first of two launches for Intelsat this year, both focused on enhancing our North American Galaxy fleet.’

Established in 1995, the Sea Launch consortium is owned by Boeing, Kvaerner ASA of Oslo, Norway, Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and RSC-Energia of Moscow.

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