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Sea Launch to resume Zenit launches on Nov. 13

RIA Novosti

02/11/2007 09:19 WASHINGTON, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - The first launch of a Zenit rocket under the Sea Launch project following a January explosion that damaged a launch platform has been scheduled for November 13, a company spokesperson said on Friday.

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

Sea Launch spokesperson Paula Korn said the "mission recovery" program has been successfully completed and the November 13 launch has been authorized.

"The Odyssey Launch Platform and the Sea Launch Commander have departed Sea Launch Home Port, for the launch of the Thuraya-3 satellite," Korn said.

"Liftoff is scheduled for November 13, in a 44-minute launch window that will open at 7:57 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:57 p.m. GMT)," she said.

Established in 1995, the Sea Launch consortium is owned by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner ASA, Ukraine's Yuzhmash, and Russia's RSC-Energia.

The company launches its vehicles from the equator, which allows the rockets to carry heavier payloads than from other latitudes.

The Thuraya mobile communications system serves a region home to 2.3 billion people, in the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Europe, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Thuraya began commercial operations in mid-2001, following Sea Launch's successful deployment of Thuraya 1 on October 20, 2000. Sea Launch successfully orbited Thuraya-2 on June 10, 2003. The 5,180 kg (11,420 lb) Thuraya-3 spacecraft is designed to expand Thuraya's system capacity and coverage area.

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