Status Report

Sea Launch Delivers Thuraya Satellite to Orbit

By SpaceRef Editor
October 20, 2000
Filed under

Heaviest Commercial Payload Ever Launched

Long Beach, Calif., October 20, 2000 — Sea Launch, the multinational
ocean-based launch services company, successfully launched the heaviest
commercial payload in history last night, the Thuraya-1 mobile communications

The Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the Odyssey Launch
Platform at 10:52 p.m. PDT, from the equatorial launch site at 154 degrees
West Longitude. The 11,260-pound (5,108 kg) Thuraya satellite was delivered
to geosynchronous transfer orbit approximately two hours and 22 minutes
after liftoff. Boeing Satellite Systems (BSS – formerly Hughes Space
and Communications) built the HS-GEM model spacecraft for Thuraya Satellite
Telecommunications Company, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"Today’s success has helped the people of three continents move
into the future," said Will Trafton, president of Sea Launch. "We
are delighted to have supported this significant mission. Our Zenit-3SL
rocket continues to build a record of reliability and dependability.
I am very proud of our team."

Following liftoff, the Russian- and Ukrainian-built launch vehicle
headed downrange to the east on its ascent to geosynchronous transfer
orbit. All systems onboard the three-stage rocket performed nominally.
The Block DM upper stage separated from the satellite 1,388 miles above
South America. BSS acquired a signal from the satellite some 22 minutes
later at a ground station in Fucino, Italy.

Designed for a 12-year lifespan, the Thuraya-1 satellite will be positioned
in a geosynchronous orbit, 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above the Earth
at 44 degrees East Longitude, inclined at 6.3 degrees. It will provide
telephone, voice mail, Interactive Voice Response, data, fax and GPS
to more than 1.8 billion subscribers – covering three continents.

Sea Launch provides commercial satellite customers the most direct
and cost-effective route to geosynchronous transfer orbit. From the
ocean-based launch site at the Equator, the robust Sea Launch Zenit-3SL
rocket can lift a heavier spacecraft mass or place a payload into a
higher perigee, helping satellite operators to attain a longer satellite
service capability. Preparations are already underway for the next mission,
a launch for XM Satellite Radio, scheduled later this year. BSS expects
to deliver the XM-1 spacecraft to Sea Launch Home Port at the end of

The Sea Launch partnership includes: Boeing Commercial Space Company,
U.S. (spacecraft integration and the payload fairings); the Anglo-Norwegian
Kvaerner Group, Norway (vessel builder); RSC Energia, Russia (Block
DM Upper Stage and its integration with the launch vehicle); and SDO
Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash, Ukraine (first two stages of the launch vehicle
and launch support operations). For more information please visit our
website at:

Paula Korn, 562.951.7348,

Sea Launch Media Hotline, 562.797.1000

SpaceRef staff editor.