The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now
NEWSALERT: Monday, March 13, 2000 @ 1445 GMT
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now
DISASTER STRIKES SEA LAUNCH MISSION WITH FIRST ICO SATELLITE
The international Sea Launch venture experienced the agony of defeat
on Sunday when its Zenit rocket veered off course and crashed into
the Pacific Ocean, destroying the first ICO mobile communications
Read a chronicle of the countdown and launch in our Mission Status Center.
NEWSALERT: Sunday, March 12, 2000
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now
See Spaceflight Now for full coverage.
Oct. 10, 1999
Russia, the United States, Norway and Ukraine launched a commercial satellite Sunday from a sea-borne platform in the Pacific Ocean on the equator.
The international spacecraft rocketed from its floating platform at 3:28 GMT at 154 degrees west longitude on the equator and carried a U.S. broadcasting satellite into a geo-stationary orbit.
Sept 23, 1999
A 200-foot Sea Launch rocket will lift the 7,600 pound DIRECTV 1-R direct broadcast satellite, built by Hughes Space & Communications Company, into geostationary transfer orbit from an equatorial ocean site at 154 Degrees West, Zero Degree North. The launch window opens at 7:28 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
"There's no question that this launch is significant for Sea Launch and for the entire launch services industry," said Sea Launch President Allen B. Ashby, who made the announcement at a press conference today. "Collectively, we shared in the tremendous success of our March 27 demonstration launch, but this is what we've been working toward; being in a position to offer our customers a cost-effective and reliable ride to orbit, while beginning to show a return on investment for the Sea Launch partnership."
Ashby also said that the departure of the program's assembly and command ship and launch platform from the Sea Launch Home Port is imminent. Set to depart Long Beach in the next several days is the Sea Launch Commander, a floating mission control center and rocket assembly factory, and the Odyssey, a self-propelled launch platform. Onboard the Odyssey, in an environmentally controlled hangar, is the Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket that will deliver the DIRECTV 1-R satellite to space. Transit of both vessels, from the Long Beach Home Port to the equator, is expected to take approximately 10-11 days.
Upon arrival at the launch site, the Odyssey will be partially submerged for additional stability. The Sea Launch rocket will then be withdrawn from its hangar, lifted into a vertical position, fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen, and launched via remote control from the Sea Launch Commander. Prior to the start of the automated fueling process, the Odyssey crew will be transferred to the Sea Launch Commander and transported approximately three miles away. DIRECTV 1-R is a Hughes HS 601HP satellite, a body-stabilized model and the 50th in the HS 601 family to be launched. It features more than 7.5 kilowatts of total power, to operate 16 high-power Ku-band transponders for service to all 50 states. Besides building the satellite, Hughes arranged for the launch services in order to deliver the spacecraft in orbit.
"The launch of DIRECTV 1-R is a significant milestone for DIRECTV," said Eddy Hartenstein, president of DIRECTV. "Once it is operational at 101 degrees West Longitude, our primary orbital slot, DIRECTV 1-R will play a key role in expanding our capacity and delivering local broadcast network channels to DIRECTV customers in major metropolitan markets across the country. DIRECTV 1-R will also strengthen our in-orbit redundancy."
Prior to the departure from Long Beach, Sea Launch and Hughes personnel conducted an extensive series of satellite tests and launch-readiness activities, including encapsulation of the DIRECTV 1-R satellite within the fairing, and transfer of the encapsulated spacecraft from the payload processing facility to the Sea Launch Commander. Once onboard, the payload was successfully mated with the three-stage Sea Launch rocket and transferred to the Odyssey for transit to the launch site.
"We've thoroughly tested all aspects of our launch support operations on both the marine and aerospace side," said Don Carter, Sea Launch vice president of operations. "Everything from the payload and rocket to our mission support operations and vessel systems looks good. Now we simply have to perform to our capabilities once we reach the launch site."
Building on proven performance and flight-tested hardware, Sea Launch combines the world's premier aerospace and marine expertise to provide satellite and end-user customers with superior value, performance and fully integrated commercial launch service capabilities. The Sea Launch global partnership includes Boeing Commercial Space Company, Kent, Wash., (provides spacecraft integration and the payload fairings); Kvaerner Maritime a.s., of Oslo, Norway (the vessel builder); RSC Energia of Moscow, Russia (provides the Block-DM upper stage and its integration with the launch vehicle); and KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine (provides the first two stages of the launch vehicle).
Sea Launch currently has firm contracts for 19 launches including the DIRECTV 1-R launch.
Internationale wateren (maandblad KIJK, maart 1999)
Lancering op zee (maandblad KIJK, juni 1998)
TSE-THE SPACE EXPERIENCE
"Today's successful launch demonstrates the viability of the Sea Launch system to the entire world," announced Sea Launch President Allen B. Ashby. "We are now ready to begin full-scale service, as a proven and cost-effective commercial satellite launch service."
Present at the equatorial launch site at 154 degrees West longitude was the Odyssey, a self-propelled launch platform, and the Sea Launch Commander, a floating mission control center and rocket assembly factory. On board the Odyssey in an environmentally controlled hangar was a 200-foot, flight-ready Sea Launch rocket, complete with demonstration payload.
During pre-launch preparations, the Odyssey was partially submerged for added stability. The rocket, with payload, then was withdrawn from its hangar on the platform, lifted into a vertical position, fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen (LOX), and launched. The fueling and launch was completely automated and cordinated from the Sea Launch Commander -- the Odyssey crew having transferred to the assembly & command ship and, subsequently, moved three miles away to a safe operating locale.
Sea Launch uses a uniquely modified Zenit rocket, configured to enhance reliability and meet the programís performance objectives. Those modifications, specific to the Sea Launch system, include: Structurally stiffening the first stage of the rocket.
Replacing the guidance computer in both the Zenit second stage and the Block DM-SL upper stage.
Extending the liquid oxygen fueling capability from the Zenit second stage to the Block DM-SL upper stage to take added advantage of the Zenit's automated fueling capabilities. Prior to the commencement of the launch countdown, Sea Launch engineers confirmed the mission flight parameters were correctly loaded in the onboard computers, and that the rocket was indeed ready for lift-off. Fueling was completed, the countdown began, and liftoff occurred at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Upon liftoff, the Sea Launch rocket, which consists of Ukrainian and Russian components, rose from the Odyssey, arched downrange to the east, and disappeared from view on its 60-minute climb to geostationary transfer orbit.
During flight, each of the three rocket stages performed nominally, with successful separation of the demonstration payload from the Block-DM upper stage occurring at approximately 6:32 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Following the delivery of the demonstration payload to geotransfer orbit, Sea Launch flight control personnel reported that flight and ground data indicated both systems operated as planned.
By delivering a demonstration payload to geostationary transfer orbit, Sea Launch demonstrated the commercial launch services the company will provide to its communications satellite customers. Now, with a successful mission behind them, the Odyssey, Sea Launch Commander and their crews begin the journey back to the Home Port in Long Beach, Calif., where each vessel will undergo post-launch checks and begin preparations for the next launch.
"This initial launch is a testament to the years of hard work, dedication and international cooperation that has occurred on the Sea Launch program," Ashby added. "Each and every member of this team can take tremendous pride in helping to achieve something which has never been accomplished before."
Sea Launch combines the resources of the world's leading aerospace and maritime companies. Partners in the international consortium include Boeing Commercial Space Company, Kent, Wash., (provides spacecraft integration and the payload fairings); Kvaerner Maritime a.s., of Oslo, Norway (the vessel builder); RSC Energia of Moscow, Russia (provides the Block-DM upper stage and its integration with the launch vehicle); and KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine (provides the first two stages of the launch vehicle).
Sea Launch has firm contracts for 16 launches, and will begin commercial operations later this year.
The Boeing Company
Originally scheduled for Friday, March 26, 1999, the launch has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 27, 1999, at 2:18 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
The current destination for both Sea Launch vessels is the Pacific Ocean launch site, 1,400 miles southeast of Hawaii.
Federal Aviation Administration
March 15, 1999
The 40 percent Boeing-owned partnership will use a Ukrainian-built Zenit booster rocket and a Russian-built upper stage for a demonstration launch targeted for Saturday, March 27. The launch platform is a converted self- propelled oil drilling platform, which will be accompanied to the launch site by an assembly and command ship designed and built by Kvaerner Maritime of Norway, another partner in the undertaking.
"This is the beginning of an exciting new era in commercial space launch activity," Garvey stated.
Patricia Grace Smith, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said, "Sea Launch represents a highly innovative technological undertaking by a unique international partnership. It adds an entire new dimension to U.S. competitiveness in the global space launch market."
By launching from a mid-ocean location on the Equator, Sea Launch gains several advantages. It benefits from the maximum rotational forces of Earth, and since the large geostationary communications satellites, which are its target customers, must orbit over the equator, it is in position to boost them by the most direct route. As a result, it can place 11,000-pound payloads in the desired orbit.
The FAA's commercial space office faced a daunting task in assessing the safety aspects of a system made up of components from several nations and launched from a mobile platform 3,000 miles from its home port of Long Beach, Calif. The office performed a rigorous assessment of the Sea Launch application and conducted several independent safety analyses before issuing the license. The FAA assessed the safety of the proposed missions based on a comparison with current U.S. launch standards and requirements. An FAA safety monitor will be aboard the command ship for the demonstration launch.
The Boeing Company
The launch will be the world's first commercial rocket launch from a floating platform at sea.
Sea Launch President Allen B. Ashby today announced that the inaugural launch will take place at 2:18 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Friday, March 26, 1999. The site will be in the Pacific at 154 West at the equator -- about 1,400 miles south of Hawaii.
"This first launch marks the culmination of four years of intensive effort by the Sea Launch partners," Ashby said, "It brings us to the final step before Sea Launch begins full operations later this year as a cost-effective, reliable commercial launch service."
Departing for the ocean launch site will be the Odyssey, a self-propelled launch platform, and the Sea Launch Commander, a floating mission control center and rocket assembly factory. On board the Odyssey in an environmentally controlled hangar is a 200-foot long, flight-ready Sea Launch rocket, with demonstration payload.
"The launch of the demonstration payload will validate the operation of the entire Sea Launch system and simulate the commercial communications satellites that Sea Launch will begin launching later this year," Ashby added.
At the equatorial launch site, the Odyssey will be partially submerged for added stability. The rocket will be withdrawn from its hangar on the platform, lifted into a vertical position, fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen, and launched. The fueling and launch will proceed by remote control from the Sea Launch Commander -- the Odyssey crew having transferred to the Commander and that vessel having moved three miles away.
Sea Launch combines the resources of the world's leading aerospace and maritime companies. Partners in the international consortium are: Boeing Commercial Space Company, Kent, Wash., (provides spacecraft integration and the payload fairings); Kvaerner Maritime a.s., of Oslo, Norway (the vessel builder); RSC Energia of Moscow, Russia (provides the upper stage and its integration with the launch vehicle); and KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine (provides the first two stages of the launch vehicle).
Currently, Sea Launch has firm contracts for 16 launches.
The Boeing Company
"These VIP and press events," reports Allen B. Ashby, Sea Launch president and general manager, "mark a critical milestone in the Sea Launch program. The construction phase of the program is almost complete, and the operations phase is about to begin. The vessels will depart for Long Beach in the coming weeks, where full-scale preparations for our first launch are underway."
Ashby adds, "Literally thousands of people in Russia, Ukraine, Norway, Scotland, and the United States have been working for more than three years to bring Sea Launch to this milestone, making it one of the world's leading examples of international cooperation in space."
The Sea Launch Commander has just completed final fitting here in the Kanonersk Shipyard and is now at the Port of St. Petersburg loading the first Sea Launch rocket. While in St. Petersburg, more than 600 tons of electronic and mechanical support equipment for mission control were installed. This 650-foot-long ship, a floating rocket assembly plant and mission control center, was constructed in the Kvaerner Govan Shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland, and was christened there in September 1997.
The Odyssey is a self-propelled, semi-submersible launch platform from which satellites will be boosted into orbit on board Sea Launch rockets. Originally modified from a oil drilling platform at the Kvaerner shipyard in Stavanger, Norway, it has been docked in the Kvaerner yard in Vyborg, Russia, since May 1997. There, 3000 tons of automated rocket handling equipment have been installed.
"At one point," Ashby said, "a workforce of more than 1200 people, mostly from Russia and Ukraine, was assigned to the launch platform."
The Home Port for both vessels will be in Long Beach, California, the operational headquarters for Sea Launch. After additional testing at sea, the Sea Launch Commander will depart for Long Beach, with arrival set for July. Too large to transit the Panama Canal, the Odyssey is tentatively scheduled to arrive at the Home Port in mid-to-late August.
The Sea Launch Commander will carry the first two flight Zenits and Block DM's -- which have been fully tested and accepted by the venture.
Sea Launch's first launch, scheduled for later this year, will boost a next-generation Hughes HS 702 communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. Designated Galaxy XI, the satellite will become part of the PanAmSat network, serving customers throughout the western hemisphere.
To date, Sea Launch has firm contracts for 18 launches -- thirteen with Hughes Space & Communications of Los Angeles, California, and five with Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, California.
Says Ashby, "Building on the proven heritage of our rocket components, the unique contribution of each partner enables Sea Launch to provide affordable, reliable, and convenient satellite services."
The four Sea Launch partners are:
Boeing Commercial Space Company of Seattle, Washington, is responsible for construction of the Home Port, customer marketing and support, payload accommodations, spacecraft integration, and mission operations.
Boeing began construction of the Home Port in August 1996 on a 16 acre site within the Port of Long Beach, with the key facility being a state-of-the-art satellite processing center in which spacecraft are tested, fueled, and encapsulated in the Boeing-built fairings. Today, the work is essentially complete. The Home Port occupies a former U.S. Navy facility -- and is an excellent example of the successful conversion of a former defense site to commercial use.
RSC Energia of Moscow, Russia, is responsible for the Block DM upper stage, launch vehicle integration, automated launch processing equipment, and launch support. The venerable Block DM has flown 144 times with 97 percent reliability. Sea Launch versions feature updated, redundant avionics. Powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene, the Block DM offers multiple restart capability.
Kvaerner Maritime a.s. of Oslo, Norway, built the Sea Launch Commander as a new vessel and transformed an existing North Sea oil platform into the Odyssey. Over the life of the program, Kvaerner along with Barber Marine of Norway will be responsible for all Sea Launch maritime operations.
KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrosk, Ukraine, builds the Zenit rocket which serves as the first two stages of the Sea Launch vehicle. Zenit's horizontal integration and highly automated operations are enabling features for Sea Launch: The vehicle is transported from its environmentally controlled hangar on the Odyssey, erected, fueled, and launched -- all via automated remote control.
"Sea Launch is having a direct impact on employment," Ashby said, "in the United States, Russia, and The Ukraine."
In California Sea Launch will employ approximately 200 people in the Home Port and ship operations. In Seattle, Sea Launch employs approximately 300 people in engineering and manufacturing.
Sea Launch generates significant employment for Russian and Ukrainian vendors building rocket motors, electronic equipment, rocket structure, plus related hardware and software elements. Direct employment there is expected to exceed 10,000 when Sea launch is in full operation.