After an apparently successful liftoff today at 6:49 a.m., PST, the Sea Launch rocket carrying the ICO F-1 mobile communications satellite suffered an anomaly.
The Sea Launch rocket lifted off in a southeasterly direction from the company's mobile launch platform, approximately 230 miles from Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in the Pacific. Loss of communication with the launch vehicle occurred close to the end of the operation of the second stage when the Sea Launch Commander, the assembly & command ship (ACS), lost flight data signals from the rocket. Each partner is actively reviewing all the available launch data. Upon approval of a specific Technical Assistance Agreement for this type of an event, an investigation oversight board will be activated.
Loss of the rocket and its payload occurred over the Pacific Ocean and the incident posed no known safety threat to populations. No Sea Launch personnel were injured and neither the ACS nor the launch platform sustained damage.
"We are extremely disappointed with the failure of the ICO F-1 mission and are working closely with the Sea Launch partners to understand the anomaly," said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Space & Communications Group. "We regret the impact that this failure will have on both ICO and Hughes." Boeing is one of four partners in the multinational Sea Launch consortium. Other partners include Energia of Russia, the Anglo-Norwegian Kvaerner Group, and KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine.
"We will have information out as soon as it becomes available," Albaugh said. "Right now we are not speculating on the exact cause of the failure."
Sea Launch Web page: www.sea-launch.com