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Progress on the Sea Launch Investigation and Recovery

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Apr 4, 2007 4:08 pm
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Sea Launch reports significant progress in the investigation into the cause of the unsuccessful launch on January 30 and repairs to the Odyssey Launch Platform.

The national space agencies of Russia and Ukraine formed an interagency commission in early February to investigate the cause of the incident and determine the necessary corrective actions. The commission recently concluded its investigation and issued a summary statement to Sea Launch, indicating an anomaly within the first stage engine caused early termination of thrust, resulting in the loss of the mission.

The Sea Launch Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) is meeting this week in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, with representatives of the interagency commission and Sea Launch partner companies, to evaluate the commission’s findings regarding the root cause of the anomaly and recommended corrective actions. The FROB is comprised of Sea Launch technical leadership and U.S. aerospace industry experts as well as customer representatives. Upon completion of the meetings, the FROB Chairman will determine whether to close the FROB and begin implementation of the recommended corrective actions or to keep the FROB open for further investigation and evaluation.

Concurrently, the Sea Launch team has completed its damage assessment phase of the Odyssey Launch Platform, including repair and recertification requirements and scheduling of repair activities. The team is now engaged in a fully integrated recovery process to restore all damaged systems back to their original operating capability. The most significant of these efforts will be the construction and installation of a new gas deflector located beneath the launch pad, replacement of heat-affected cable and wiring, replacement of the launch support umbilical interface to the launch vehicle, and painting of the external surfaces.

The one-of-a-kind gas deflector – a 250-metric ton steel structure that directs the engine exhaust away from the platform and controls the acoustic environment – is being built in St. Petersburg, Russia, by the original subcontractor. The Design Bureau of Transport Machinery (DBTM), Sea Launch’s Russian contractor for much of the launch support equipment, is managing this effort. Upon completion of the fabrication of the deflector, DBTM will ship the structure to Sea Launch Home Port for installation on the Launch Platform. Additional heavy industrial repair work and painting will be performed at a shipyard on the West Coast of North America.

Based on current progress, Sea Launch anticipates the FROB activity will be completed by June, followed by implementation of the necessary corrective actions leading to return to flight. The Launch Platform repair and recertification operations are expected to be completed in September. The Sea Launch partners – Boeing, RSC Energia, SDO Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash and Aker ASA – remain fully committed to working together to resolve this anomaly and recover from its consequences for a Return to Flight in October.

About Sea Launch Company
Sea Launch Company, LLC, based in Long Beach, Calif., provides heavy lift launch services to commercial satellite customers. With the advantage of a launch site on the Equator, the Zenit-3SL rocket can lift a heavier spacecraft mass or provide longer life on orbit, offering best value plus schedule assurance. For additional information, please visit us at: www.sea-launch.com

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