April 28, 2008
Israeli Satellite Reaches Orbit in Land Launch Debut
Israel's Amos-3 telecommunications satellite was placed successfully into
geostationary orbit on Monday aboard the inaugural flight of the Russian-Ukrainian
Land Launch system, setting the stage for what satellite-fleet operators hope
will be a lively competition between Land Launch -- affiliated with Sea
Launch Co. of Long Beach, Calif. -- and Russian Soyuz rockets launched from
Europe's equatorial spaceport.
of Tel Aviv, confirmed that the 1,270-kilogram Amos-3 separated from Land
Launch's Block DM upper stage about seven and one-half hours after launch
following three Block DM ignition-and-coast sequences. Spacecom said the
satellite had sent initial signals and that its solar arrays had deployed.
uses essentially the same rocket, the Zenit 3SL, as that operated by Sea Launch
Co. from a floating platform on the equator in the Pacific Ocean. The rocket launched
at 1:00 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT).
Launch, operated from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at about 46 degrees
North latitude, is capable of placing telecommunications satellites weighing
about 3,600 kilograms into geostationary orbit. The Sea Launch operation,
because of its equatorial location, can carry satellites weighing more than
6,000 kilograms to the same destination.
inaugural launch, it was Space International Services (SIS) Ltd. of Moscow that
negotiated the commercial-launch contract with Spacecom. Sea Launch, which
normally markets Land Launch, was not involved. SIS is owned by the Zenit 3's Russian
and Ukrainian builders.
commercial launches, Sea Launch will contract with SIS after booking orders
with satellite owners, a relationship similar to that between International
Launch Services of McLean, Va., and the builders of Russia's Proton rocket.
Boeing Co. is a 40 percent equity owner of Sea Launch but does not have an
ownership stake in Land Launch.
is going after the same commercial market as that to be served by a Europeanized
version of Russia's Soyuz rocket. Starting in 2009, this Soyuz will be launched
from Europe's Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, whose location near the
equator gives the vehicle the ability to loft satellites weighing slightly more
than 3,000 kilograms into geostationary orbit.
largest commercial telecommunications satellites now routinely exceed 5,000
kilograms in launch weight, demand for satellites weighing 3,000 kilograms or
less remains robust.
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