Sea Launch Company today successfully delivered DIRECTV's Spaceway F1 satellite to orbit, completing the launch of the heaviest commercial satellite to date. Early data indicate the spacecraft is in excellent condition.
The Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 12:31:30 am PDT (07:31:30 GMT), 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 6,080 kg (13,376 lb) Spaceway satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position of 102.8 degrees West Longitude. A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signal less than an hour after liftoff, as planned.
The Boeing 702 model spacecraft, with a design life of 12 years, was manufactured at Boeing's Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif. It includes a flexible payload with a fully steerable downlink antenna that can be reconfigured on orbit to seamlessly address market conditions.
Following acquisition of the spacecraft's signal, Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, congratulated Boeing and DIRECTV. "Successfully launching the heaviest commercial satellite to date is a tremendous achievement for everyone involved," Maser said. "It was extremely satisfying for us to provide another great launch for DIRECTV and for Boeing and we look forward to many more in the future. And, once again, our accomplished Sea Launch team has raised the bar -- not only for Sea Launch -- but also for the entire launch industry. We are all especially proud of this latest success. We are the commercial heavy weight champions of the world!"