The Odyssey launch platform and Sea Launch Commander control
ship on the day before launch. Credit: Sea Launch

The Intelsat 27 satellite is prepared for shipment from its Boeing
factory in El Segundo, Calif. Credit: Boeing

Sea Launch rocket, Intelsat satellite fall into Pacific

Posted: February 1, 2013

A commercial Zenit 3SL rocket operated by Sea Launch fell into the equatorial Pacific Ocean moments after lifting off from a mobile platform Friday, destroying the Ukrainian booster and an Intelsat communications satellite.

The 20-story rocket, loaded with more than 900,000 pounds of flammable propellant, blasted off at 0656 GMT (1:56 a.m. EST) from Sea Launch’s Odyssey launch platform stationed in the Pacific Ocean about 1,400 miles south of Hawaii.

But something almost immediately went wrong with the launch, and the three-stage rocket appeared to fly off course before its RD-171 main engine switched off about 25 seconds after liftoff, apparently as a safety measure. Sea Launch’s rockets carry an on-board health monitor to turn off their engines in the event of a problem, according to the company’s website.

“Sea Launch AG announced today that approximately 40 seconds after liftoff of the launch of the Intelsat 27 spacecraft, all telemetry was lost, indicating a loss of mission,” the Bern, Switzerland-based company said in a statement released about one hour after the launch.

Read more: Spaceflight Now | Sea Launch Report | Sea Launch rocket, Intelsat satellite fall into Pacific.

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