Sea Launch Company today successfully delivered XM Satellite Radio's XM-3 satellite to orbit from its ocean-based platform on the Equator, in its first mission of the 2005 manifest. Early data indicate the spacecraft is in excellent condition.
The Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 7:51 pm PST ( 03:51 GMT, Mar. 1), precisely on schedule, from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude. All systems performed nominally throughout the flight. The Block DM-SL upper stage inserted the 4,703 kg (10,346 lb) XM-3 satellite into an optimized geosynchronous transfer orbit of 2468 km x 35786 km, on its way to an orbital location for routine testing prior to placement in its final orbital position at 85 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signal an hour after liftoff, as planned.
Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, International, Inc., the XM-3 satellite is a 702 model spacecraft, one of the most powerful satellites built today, designed to provide 18 kilowatts of total power at beginning of life. Like its sister spacecraft, XM-1 and XM-2 -- also launched by Sea Launch -- XM-3 will transmit more than 150 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children's programming to subscribers across the continental United States.
Immediately following the mission, Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, said, "I want to congratulate Boeing Satellite Systems and XM Satellite Radio on today's successful mission. We are extremely proud to be able to provide another launch for both XM and Boeing and we look forward to continuing our long and mutually beneficial relationships. I also want to congratulate the entire Sea Launch team and thank each individual for their enormous contribution to today's mission."