Zenit-3SL rocket launches Echostar XI satellite

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Zenit-3SL rocket

At 05:20:59 GMT this morning, the Echostar XI satellite was successfully launched into a geosynchronous transfer orbit atop a Zenit-3SL carrier rocket. Launch occurred from the Ocean Odyssey launch platform in the Pacific Ocean. The launch was conducted by Sea Launch, a partnership between companies in Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Echostar XI separated from the Block DM-SL upper stage of the carrier rocket at 06:21:00 GMT, one hour and one second after liftoff. It was confirmed 11 seconds later.

Echostar XI is a commercial communications satellite, which will be operated by Echostar Corporation for DISH Network. The last DISH satellite to be launched, AMC-14 was lost in a launch failure involving the upper stage of its Proton carrier rocket, earlier this year. The satellite will be positioned at 110oW, in a geosynchronous transfer orbit, around 35,600 kilometres above the Equator. It will provide communications services to North America.

The Echostar XI spacecraft was built by Space Systems Loral, and is based on the LS-1300 satellite bus. It has a mass of 5511 kilograms, and will provide communications within the NATO J-band, or the Ku-band under the old US IEEE system. Acquisition of the spacecraft's signal occurred at 06:31 GMT.

Speaking after the launch, newly appointed Sea Launch President Kjell Karlsen described the launch as "perfect". He reported that the satellite had been placed into an orbit with a perigee of 750 kilometres, and an apogee of 35643 km. He also remarked on his predecessor, Rob Peckham, thanking him for his "unparallelled commitment and dedication". Rohan Zaven, the Vice President of space programmes at DISH Network thanked Sea Launch for the launch, telling viewers that "what you saw tonight was another flawless mission from these guys". Zia Oboodryat, of Space Systems Loral thanked Sea Launch, and told DISH Network that he was "sure that we'll deliver the rest of the fifteen years [expected lifetime] to you".

This is the thirty-fifth orbital launch of 2008. It is also the fourth Sea Launch mission of the year, and the fifth Zenit launch. It is the 67th overall Zenit launch. The next is scheduled for mid-late August, with the Measat 3A satellite, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.