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Sea Launch Sends DIRECTV Satellite to Orbit.
Sea Launch successfully lofted the DIRECTV 7S broadcast satellite into orbit today. A Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the floating platform at 1242 GMT (8:42 am EDT), and sent the satellite into a geosynchronous orbit towards its final destination above 119 degrees West Longitude. The DIRECTV 7S is the heaviest commercial satellite ever launched, weighing in at 5,483 kg. This was the 10th successful consecutive mission for Sea Launch.
Sea Launch Company today successfully delivered the DIRECTV 7S broadcast satellite to orbit from its ocean-based platform on the Equator, marking ten consecutive successes for this highly reliable system. Early data indicate the spacecraft is in excellent condition.
The Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 5:42 am PDT (12:42 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude, precisely on schedule. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 5,483 kg (12,063 lb.) DIRECTV 7S satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 119 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in Weilheim, Germany, acquired the spacecraft’s first signal, shortly after spacecraft separation, as planned.
Immediately following the mission, Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, said, "In a 29-minute flight with a single-burn of our upper stage, Sea Launch has once again broken its own record by successfully deploying the heaviest commercial satellite in history. This achievement further solidifies Sea Launch’s position as the preeminent heavy lift commercial launch service in the industry."
"I want to congratulate DIRECTV on today’s exciting mission. We are so proud to be able to provide another launch for DIRECTV and we look forward to building upon a long and mutually beneficial relationship as you continue to expand your direct-to-home business. I also want to congratulate the entire Sea Launch team and thank each member of the team for their enormous contribution to today’s flawless mission."
DIRECTV 7S, the second spot beam satellite in the DIRECTV fleet, will use highly focused spot beam technology to provide DIRECTV with the capacity to deliver local channels to 41 additional markets, expanding local channel coverage to a total of 106 markets. Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) at their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, Calif., the 1300-series spacecraft is one of several high capacity direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast satellites SS/L has produced for DIRECTV, the leading U.S. digital television provider. This is Sea Launch's second mission for DIRECTV and third for Loral. The first DIRECTV launch was on October 9, 1999, when Sea Launch successfully placed DIRECTV 1R into orbit. The most recent launch for Loral was Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 on January 10, 2004.
Through a cooperative arrangement with Boeing Launch Services (BLS), Sea Launch signed an agreement with Arianespace in November 2003 to launch DIRECTV 7S. This arrangement allowed Arianespace to negotiate a seamless transfer of the satellite to Sea Launch, and for DIRECTV to secure a guaranteed launch slot for this important mission. The launch services alliance utilizes launch systems from three leading service providers - Arianespace, Boeing Launch Services and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - to provide customers with on-time launches and total mission assurance.
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