Sea Launch is back after a two-year hiatus after a Zeni-3SL rocket launched the ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 broadcast satellite into orbit from the ocean-based Odyssey Launch Platform. One hour and seven minutes after launch from the equatorial location, a Block DM-SL upper stage fired to send the Eutelsat satellite into an equatorial transfer orbit. Officials report the launch went as planned and that the satellite is performing as expected.
“We offer our sincere congratulations to Eutelsat, and to Astrium for this outstanding success,” said Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG, in a press release. “We’re very proud to play a role in Eutelsat’s continued and expanding success. We thank you for your renewed trust and confidence in our system and our team. I also want to thank and congratulate the Sea Launch and Energia Logistics teams, RSC Energia, as well as all of the suppliers and contractors around the world who support us.”
This was the first Sea Launch mission in more than two years. The international consortium went through a bankruptcy organization that resulted in the Russian company Energia purchasing 95 percent of the company.
Satellite operators had been looking forward to the return of Sea Launch, which provides more competition among launch providers. Sea Launch is especially well suited for geosynchronous communications satellites that require equatorial orbits because the launch platform can be towed to an ideal location.
The launch was also good news for the the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and the Yuzhny Machine Building Plant, which design and construct the Zenit boosters. The return to flight gives a boost to the nation’s space industry.
“The powerful ATLANTIC BIRD™ 7 satellite will further consolidate Eutelsat’s resources for vibrant digital broadcasting markets across the Middle East and North Africa,” Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen said in a statement. “Our thanks go to Sea Launch AG, Energia Logistics and RSC Energia for this precisely-executed launch and their extreme professionalism during this important campaign. With tonight’s launch successfully completed, we are now fully focused on collaborating with our industrial partner, Astrium, to bring ATLANTIC BIRD 7 into full commercial service next month.”