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Zenit rocket to be launched from Pacific Ocean site on Sunday

RIA Novosti

23/11/2007 14:24 MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti) - An attempt to launch a Zenit-3SL rocket with a Thuraya-3 communications satellite on board will be made on Sunday from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean, the Sea Launch company said on Friday.

A Russian Mission Control spokesman said on Wednesday that the launch, originally planned for November 13, had been delayed many times due to poor weather conditions. The current plan is to put the satellite into orbit at 3:10 p.m. GMT on November 25.

The Sea Launch consortium, established in 1995, is owned by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner ASA, Ukraine's design bureau Yuzhnoye and production association Yuzhmash, as well Russia's RSC-Energia, and is the only company which launches its vehicles from the equator, allowing 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 had 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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