September 24, 2008

Sea Launch Signs Contract As Part of High-Speed Internet Project

KYIV. Sept 24 (Interfax) - The Sea Launch international consortium has signed an agreement on two cluster launches of a Zenith-3SL launch vehicle carrying 16 telecommunications satellites for the O3b Networks satellite system, which is currently under construction, from a launch pad in the Pacific Ocean.

The consortium's spokeswoman Paula Korn told Interfax that eight Thales Alenia Space satellites weighing 700 kilograms each are to be put into near-equatorial orbit with a height of 7,825 kilometers during each of the launches, the first of which is scheduled to take place in late 2010. The satellites have a ten-year service life.

The project, which is being implemented by the O3b Networks Internet group ("other 3 billion") and involves Google, the HSBC bank and the Liberty Global cable operator, is intended to help provide high-speed Internet services to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The system, which is equivalent to more than 2,000 re- transmitters, will ensure the transit of traffic at a speed of ten gigabits per second.

The Sea Launch consortium was set up in 1995. It specializes in operating commercial launches of satellites from a launch pad in the Pacific Ocean using Zenith-3Sl launch vehicles. Its founders include Boeing Commercial Space Company (Seattle, U.S., a 40%-stake), the Energia spacecraft-building corporation (Korolyov, Russia, a 25%- stake), Akar ASA (Norway, a 20%-stake), the Yuzhnoy design bureau and Yuzhmash (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, 15%).

Sea Launch has carried out 29 launches since 1999, 27 of which were successful. The last launch involved a Galaxy-19 telecommunications satellite and took place on September 24.

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