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Sea Launch to resume Zenith launches in September

RIA Novosti

11/07/2007 15:52 MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Rocket launches under the Sea Launch project could resume in September following the explosion of a Zenith rocket in January that damaged a launch platform, a Russian power machine-building company said Wednesday.

"Launches of the Zenith under the Sea Launch program are scheduled to resume in September," said Vladimir Chvanov, deputy general director of the Energomash company.

A Sea Launch Zenith-3SL rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite exploded shortly after liftoff from an oceangoing platform in the Pacific January 31. The Odyssey platform suffered only minor damage.

An intergovernmental commission comprising representatives of Ukrainian and Russian companies, the developers of the Zenith rocket, and a panel of international experts have conducted separate investigations of the accident.

They established in June that the engine failed because a metal shard was accidentally drawn into the engine's pump during production.

"On July 8, the Sea Launch consortium authorized the resumption of launches from its sea-based Odyssey platform," Chvanov said.

Established in 1995, the consortium is owned by Boeing, Kvaerner ASA of Oslo, Norway, Yuzhmash of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and RSC-Energia of Moscow.

The company launches its vehicles from the equator, which allows rockets to carry heavier payloads than they could from other locations due to the physics of the Earth's rotation.

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