Press Release

SSL and Sea Launch Announce Successful Completion of Investigation

By SpaceRef Editor
December 19, 2012
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Space Systems/Loral (SSL) and Sea Launch AG (Sea Launch) today announced that the Independent Oversight Board (IOB) formed to investigate the solar array deployment anomaly on a satellite launched in the spring of 2012 has successfully reached a unanimous conclusion.

The IOB, which was comprised of three highly regarded industry experts, worked with a comprehensive team of engineers from both SSL and Sea Launch to conduct an exhaustive investigation of data from the launch vehicle, the spacecraft, and interactions between the two. Extensive data provided by Sea Launch were instrumental in achieving the findings which led to the investigation’s positive conclusion.

The IOB concluded that the anomaly occurred before the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle, during the ascent phase of the launch, and originated in one of the satellite’s two solar array wings due to a rare combination of factors in the panel fabrication. While the satellite is performing on orbit, the anomaly resulted in structural and electrical damage to one solar array wing, which reduced the amount of power available for payload operation.

After rigorous investigation, the launch vehicle was exonerated from causing or contributing to the anomaly and there were no unexpected interactions between the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. Both SSL and Energia Logistics Ltd. (ELUS), on behalf of Sea Launch, concurred with the IOB findings.

“SSL and Sea Launch worked together to form the independent review board to ensure that the cause of the anomaly was identified without any bias, preconception or prejudice,” said John Wormington, chairman of the IOB. “Both companies were extremely cooperative in providing the data and analyses that we required, and worked well together in solving this very elusive problem. We have very high confidence in the conclusion.”

“I’d like to thank the highly qualified oversight board for conducting this extensive and thorough investigation,” said John Celli, president of SSL. “It was imperative to both ourselves and Sea Launch that we fully understand the cause of the anomaly, and we can now clearly say that interactions between the satellite and launch vehicle were not contributing factors. SSL is already taking actions to assure mission success for all upcoming launches.”

“The findings of the IOB have validated that the launch vehicle did not cause or contribute to the observed anomaly,” said Kjell Karlsen, President of Sea Launch AG. “I wish to thank our partners for their dedicated support of the investigation, and contributions of in-depth knowledge and understanding of the launch vehicle design, spacecraft launch environments and integration analyses.” Karlsen continued, “Sea Launch is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist SSL in finding a definitive cause of the anomaly and looks forward to performing many more launches of SSL satellites.”

About Sea Launch AG

Sea Launch AG, headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, provides launch solutions to the industry’s satellite operator community based on the Zenit launch system. These services include the provision of all-inclusive launch services incorporating schedule assurance, financing, risk management; insurance and creative contracting solutions to meet the changing demands of the commercial launch market. Sea Launch AG owns and manages the primary technology, patent and other intellectual property and tangible assets of the company. These include the launch platform Odyssey and the Sea Launch Commander vessels located in the Home Port facility in Long Beach, California, and the unique know-how associated with launching satellites from an ocean-based launch platform located directly on the equator. The Sea Launch system offers the most direct and cost-effective route to geostationary orbit for commercial communications satellites, providing diversity of supply, affordability and flexibility for the industry’s satellite operators. For more information, please visit the Sea Launch website at

About SSL

SSL has a long history of delivering reliable satellites and spacecraft systems for commercial and government customers around the world. As the world’s leading provider of commercial satellites, the company works closely with satellite operators to provide spacecraft for a broad range of services including television and radio distribution, digital audio radio, broadband Internet, and mobile communications. Billions of people around the world depend on SSL satellites every day. For more information, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.