July 16, 2008

U.S. Satellite Echostar XI Put into Orbit

KOROLYOV, Moscow region. July 16 (Interfax-AVN) - A Russian- Ukrainian Zenit-3SL rocket and its upper stage DM have successfully put the U.S. satellite EchoStar XI into orbit with an altitude of 36,000 kilometers.

"After the satellite was put into orbit, its control was handed over to its owner," the Russian space mission control told Interfax.

The Zenit-3SL rocket was launched from the Ocean Odyssey floating launch platform in the equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean as part of the Sea Launch program at 9:21 a.m. Moscow time on Wednesday. The first stage separated two minutes after the launch and the second did so six minutes later, after which EchoStar XI with the DM upper stage reached a transfer orbit. The upper stage took less than one hour to put the satellite into the final orbit.

The five-tonne EchoStar XI satellite has been manufactured at the U.S.-based Space Systems/Loral. It has joined the DISH Network Corporation's group of satellites and has become the third satellite launched under the Sea Launch program for the corporation, providing satellite television services to 14 million clients.

EchoStar has become the fourth satellite put into orbit under the Sea Launch program this year. An Arab satellite, Thuraya-D3, was launched into space on January 15, a Zenit-3SLB rocket put a U.S. satellite, DirecTV-11, into orbit on March 20, and the telecommunications satellite Galaxy-18 was launched on May 21 following several postponements because of weather conditions.

According to the Sea Launch company, the schedule for 2008 provides for six launches from the sea borne launch platform and three launches from the Baikonur space center. The first launch of a Zenit-3SLB rocket carrying an Amos-3 satellite from Baikonur took place in April.

The Sea Launch company was set up in 1995 by Boeing Commercial Space Company (Seattle, U.S., 40% of shares), the Energia space rocket corporation (Korolyov, Russia, 25%), Kvaerner Maritimmea.s (Oslo, Norway, 20%), and the Yuzhnoye design bureau and Yuzhmash production company (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, 15%).

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