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Thuraya-3 satellite launch delayed again

RIA Novosti

21/11/2007 19:28 MOSCOW, November 21 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of a Zenit-3SL rocket with a Thuraya-3 communications satellite from the Pacific Ocean has been delayed for a sixth time due to poor weather conditions, a Russian Mission Control spokesman said Wednesday.

"The launch has been delayed for an indefinite time. The satellite may be launched tomorrow or later. It depends on the weather and the Sea Launch company's decision," the spokesman said.

The launch originally planned for November 13 was expected to take place November 21 at 6.25 p.m. Moscow time (3.25 GMT).

The Sea Launch consortium, established in 1995, is owned by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner ASA, Ukraine's Yuzhmash, and Russia's RSC-Energia, and is the only company which launches its vehicles from the equator, allowing the rockets to carry heavier payloads than from other latitudes.

This is the first launch of the Zenit carrier rocket following a January 30 booster rocket explosion that slightly damaged the Odyssey Launch Platform. The commission investigating the accident concluded that the failure originated in the liquid oxygen turbo-pump section of the RD-171M main engine, manufactured by Russia's power machine-building company Energomash.

Thuraya Telecommunications Co., based in the United Arab Emirates, 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, built by Boeing, is designed to expand Thuraya's system capacity and coverage area to East Asia.

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