Sea Launch lofts EchoStar 11 – EchoStar 2 dies on orbit

by Chris Bergin

Sea Launch have returned to action tonight with the launch of the EchoStar 11 telecommunications satellite via their Zenit-3SL launch vehicle from their Odyssey Launch Platform. The launch was on time at 10:21pm PDT.

Meanwhile, one of the EchoStar’s older birds failed earlier this week, with an official announcement confirming the loss of EchoStar 2 now released.

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EchoStar 2 lost

The DISH Network has confirmed the loss of the bird that was launched back in 1996.

Located in the 148 degree orbital location – and primarily used as a back-up satellite – the satellite had provided local network channel service to Alaska and six other small markets.

‘On July 14, 2008, our EchoStar 2 satellite experienced a substantial failure that appears to have rendered the satellite a total loss,’ noted a release to the stock market.

‘All programming and other services previously broadcast from EchoStar 2 were restored to Echostar 1, the primary satellite at the 148 degree location, within several hours after the failure.’

Mission Background – EchoStar 11

The Zenit-3SL is a hybrid concept developed by RSC Energia. 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 satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

The launch events involve a separation of the first and second stages, two-and-a-half minutes after lift-off – with a jettison of the payload fairing 78 seconds later. After operating for six minutes, the second stage will separate from the Block DM upper stage.

The Block DM will then operate for a five-minute burn. Following a 30-minute coast period, the Block DM will operate a second time for six-and-a-half minutes. After the second burn, and nine-minute coast, the spacecraft will separate from the upper stage over the Indian Ocean, off the East coast of Africa.

Ground stations at Gnangara (Perth), Australia, and Kumsan, South Korea, will be tracking the spacecraft to acquire its first signal from orbit.

In total, the Zenit-3SL vehicle will insert the 5,511 kg (12,150 lb) EchoStar 11 satellite into GTO one hour after launch, on its way to a final orbital location of 110 degrees West Longitude.

This will be the fourth launch since Sea Launch returned to flight in January, 07 – 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 and the May success of Galaxy 18.

Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the powerful 20-kW spacecraft, carries a Ku-band payload that will support DISH Network’s direct broadcast television service for its customers throughout the United States.

EchoStar 11 is based on SS/L’s 1300 platform, which provides the flexibility for a broad range of applications. Following launch and in-orbit testing, the new satellite will support the expansion of DISH Network’s programming and services.

This spacecraft is designed for a 15-year service life on orbit. This is the third mission Sea Launch is executing for DISH Network and the eighth mission with a spacecraft built by SS/L.

‘There is a good deal of anticipation as we gear up for the EchoStar XI launch,’ said Rohan Zaveri, Vice President of Space Programs for DISH Network.

‘Each time Space Systems/Loral delivers a satellite to DISH Network, we are reminded of the success of our ongoing working relationship and the company’s ability to meet our evolving requirements.’

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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