Sea Launch AG has successfully launched the ATLANTIC BIRD 7 broadcast satellite from the Equator on the ocean-based Odyssey launch platform, marking its first mission for Eutelsat Communications and its awaited return to launch operations following re-organization in late 2010.
The Zenit-3SL rocket carrying the Atlantic Bird 7 spacecraft lifted off at 1:18 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (20:18 GMT/UTC) on Sept. 24 from the launch platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in international waters of the Pacific Ocean.
One hour and seven minutes later, the Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the satellite, weighing approximately 4,600 kg (10,141 lbs) and built by Astrium, an EADS company, into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 7 degrees West Longitude.
Operators at the Hartebeesthoek ground station near Pretoria, South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signals from orbit shortly after spacecraft separation. All systems performed nominally throughout the launch mission.
"We offer our sincere congratulations to Eutelsat, and to Astrium for this outstanding success," said Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG. "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."
Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, added: "The powerful Atlantic Bird 7 satellite will further consolidate Eutelsat's resources for vibrant digital broadcasting markets across the Middle East and North Africa. 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."
Sea Launch AG, headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, provides corporate sales, marketing, contracting and management for launch services based on the highly-proven and reliable Zenit-3SL launch system. The Sea Launch system offers the most direct and cost-effective route to geostationary orbit for commercial communications satellites and has flown 31 missions, providing diversity of supply, affordability, flexibility and assured access to space for the industry's satellite operators.