MOSCOW, March 31, /ITAR-TASS/. The launch of a Zenit rocket with the EUTELSAT 3B satellite has been postponed for several days or weeks.
During the final “dry” roll-out phase of integrated launch vehicle (ILV) processing at Home Port in support of the EUTELSAT 3B mission, a discrepancy in the nominal movement of the cable-mast and the Zenit-2S LV lateral plate occurred while installing the ILV onto the launch pad. This caused mechanical damage to the lateral plate housing located on the inter-stage truss of the LV. Resolution of this condition will result in a delay to the planned April 15, 2014 launch date, the company Sea Lauch said on Monday, March 31.
Rocket and Space Corporation Energia President Vitaly Lopota said no damage had been found and specialists were investigating the discrepancy.
“There is a tiny deformity in the rocket’s hull. It might have been the reason. We will not take it out to sea until we work everything out. I think there may be a delay for a week or two,” Lopota said.
A decision was made to de-mate the Payload Unit and Block-DM-SL onboard the Sea Launch Commander to resolve the issue, establish the root cause and perform additional checks of the interface between the launch vehicle and ground support equipment connectors.
Once the above tasks have been completed, Sea Launch will announce an updated schedule and launch day for EUTELSAT 3B.
The EUTELSAT 3B satellite was not powered on during the operation on the launch vehicle and was unaffected. It remains in a safe configuration.
Initially, this year’s first launch from a platform in the Pacific was scheduled for April 16.
The EUTELSAT 3B communications satellite departed from the Toulouse, France, manufacturing facilities of Airbus Defence and Space on February 17 and arrived at the Long Beach Airport (LGB) on-board an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft on the following day. It was subsequently transferred via surface roads on an oversized transport vehicle with representatives from Eutelsat, Airbus Defence and Space and Energia Logistics Ltd. on hand to receive the spacecraft, the statement said.
“Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform of Airbus Defence and Space, the EUTELSAT 3B satellite has been designed to operate three commercial payloads in the C, Ku and Ka bands. This tri-band configuration will deliver exceptional levels of in-orbit flexibility and coverage from Eutelsat’s expanding 3 degrees East neighbourhood,” Sea Launch said.
The satellite will enable Eutelsat to diversify its commercial response to Internet Service Providers, telecom companies, government agencies and broadcasters operating in Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. EUTELSAT 3B has a designed in-orbit lifetime exceeding 15 years.
Sea Launch owns or manages through affiliate agreements the primary technology, patent and other intellectual property and tangible assets required to perform its launch services business. These include the highly specialized vessels Odyssey Launch Platform and the Sea Launch Commander each located in the Home Port facility in Long Beach, California, as well as the unique know-how associated with launching satellites from an ocean-based launch platform located directly on the equator.
Thirty-five launches have been carried out under the Sea Launch programme, 32 of which were successful.