Zenit rocket launches Galaxy 18 satellite

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Zenit-3SL rocket

A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket has been launched from the Ocean Odyssey platform in the Pacific Ocean, carrying a communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Lift-off occurred at 09:43 GMT this morning, and the satellite was deployed into its transfer orbit about an hour later.

The satellite, Galaxy 18, will be operated by Intelsat from an orbital slot of 123° West longitude in geosynchronous orbit. It will provide communications services for Intelsat customers in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The launch of Galaxy 18 was delayed from last year, following the January 2007 explosion of a Zenit rocket on its launch pad. It was originally built for PanAmSat, which merged with Intelsat in August 2005. It had a launch mass, fully fuelled, of 4700 kilograms, and was built by Space Systems Loral around an LS-1300 satellite bus. It is expected to remain operational for around 15 years.

This is the 24th orbital launch of 2008, and the 66th launch of the Ukranian-built Zenit rocket. The next scheduled Zenit launch is currently planned for July, with the Echostar XI satellite. Another Zenit-3SL will launch Intelsat's next satellite, Galaxy 19, in August.

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