Sea Launch Zenit 3SL successfully lofts Eutelsat 70B

by Chris Bergin

The Sea Launch company launched their Zenit-3SL rocket from the Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean on Monday. The payload for this mission was the Eutelsat 70B telecommunications satellite, with the 20:43 GMT launch lofting it into optimized geosynchronous transfer orbit, en route to its new home at 70.5 degrees East longitude.

Sea Launch Mission:

The Zenit-3SL is a hybrid concept developed by RSC Energia. The two stage Zenit features a modified Russian Block DM upper stage.

Following the conclusion of countdown activities – traditionally marked on the loop in both English and Russian – the Zenit-3SL rocket began its ascent phase of flight by lifting off from the former oil platform.

The first stage of the vehicle separated 2:30 minutes (150 seconds) after liftoff, and the protective payload fairing was jettisoned 77 seconds later at 3:47 minutes into the flight. The second stage conducted a six minute burn, followed by its separation from the Block DM-SL upper stage.

The Block DM-SL began its first of two burns at 8:41 minutes (521 seconds) into the mission, for the duration of 320 seconds. The upper stage then shut down for a 36 minute coast period, followed by the start of the second burn at 50 minutes into the mission. Spacecraft separation was on schedule at 1:06 minutes after liftoff, over the Indian Ocean.

“We take great pride in having successfully delivered Eutelsat’s spacecraft accurately into its designated transfer orbit. Once again, the Zenit-3SL/B has proven itself as a reliable and accurate launch system with an overall launch success rate of 95 percent,” said Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG. “To our colleagues at the launch site and around the world – well done!  Your dedication to perfection reflects the best of what Sea Launch represents.”

The EUTELSAT-70B satellite is based on the Astrium Eurostar E-3000 platform with a designed in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years. The 11,500 lbs spacecraft sports 48- Ku-band transponders, to be utilized at its 70.5 degree East longitude location.

Each of the satellite’s four high-performance fixed beams will be focused over a distinct zone: Europe, Africa, Central Asia and South-East Asia reaching as far as Australia. Services include secure government communications in Central Asia through hubs located in the region or in Europe, business networks between South-East Asia and Africa, and direct connectivity between Europe and Australia.

“The flexible EUTELSAT 70B satellite will further consolidate Eutelsat’s commercial response to clients providing video, data and telecoms services in a vast footprint encompassing Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Our thanks go to Sea Launch AG, Energia Logistics and RSC Energia for this flawless launch and their professionalism throughout the campaign, added Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO.

“With the launch successfully completed, we are now fully focused on working with our industrial partner Astrium, to bring EUTELSAT 70B into full commercial service in January 2013.”

The launch comes less than a month after Eutelsat21B/W6A launched on an Ariane 5 ECA from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

This launch campaign was the fourth ocean-based mission for the new Sea Launch Company, formed since the old company went out of business over two years ago.

The old company’’s demise came just a year after they returned to flight in January, 2007 – following the major impact of 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. (Over 300mb of exclusive multi-angle video and hi res photos – available in L2 – LINK).

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.

Since reforming, the new company has successfully launched Atlantic Bird 7, Intelsat 19 and Intelsat 21 from their Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean.

Sea Launch also announced they have become a back up launch option for Asia Satellite Telecommunications.

The option involves “a future AsiaSat satellite” riding on their Zenit 3SL. Currently, both AsiaSat 6 and 8 are manifested to ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in 2014, meaning the arrangement with Sea Launch will allow for on-time delivery in the event Falcon 9′s schedule becomes too busy. The other – unspecified – AsiaSat has an ILS Proton-M as its optional back up launch vehicle.

(Images via Sea Launch and L2).

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