MOSCOW--(Update) Sea Launch Fails, Telecoms Satellite Lost : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Sea Launch Fails, Telecoms Satellite Lost Updated 3:01 PM ET March 12, 2000 By Peter Graff

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A commercial space shot by the Boeing -led international Sea Launch consortium failed on Sunday, destroying a U.S. communications satellite.

Michael Johnson, a spokesman for ICO Global Communications, told Reuters that the first of 12 telecommunications satellites built for its company by the Hughes Space and Communications Company of El Segundo, California, had been lost.

The launch, from a converted oil platform on the equator, was part of the multinational Sea Launch project led by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner Group, Russia's Energiya spacecraft builder and Ukraine's Yuzhnoye rocket company, which made the failed Zenit-3 SL launch vehicle.

"An investigation is planned. The rocket lifted off successfully on time but it suffered an anomaly after launch and we are waiting for the details," Javier Mendoza, a spokesman for Boeing, which owns 40 percent of Sea Launch, said by telephone.

The crash will be a setback for Ukraine and Russia, which had been hoping the Sea Launch project would provide a steady stream of funds for their cash-strapped space and rocket-building industries.

"The Sea Launch team is committed to finding out what went wrong, take corrective actions and continue launching in the nearest future," Boeing spokeswoman Anne Eisele said.

A spokesman for Russia's mission control said the second stage of the Ukrainian-built rocket had failed 467 seconds into its flight, failing to place the satellite in orbit.

The rocket lifted off in an easterly direction from the mobile launch platform about 230 (370 kilometers) miles from Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, the consortium said in a recorded message at its U.S. office.

Communication was lost several minutes into the flight when flight data signals from the rocket were lost. "No Sea Launch personnel were injured and neither the (assembly command ship) nor the launch platform sustained damage," the consortium said.

A separate launch Sunday of a Proton rocket from Russia's Baikanur space base was a success.

ICO Global Communications, established in 1995, is planning to build a satellite-based mobile phone network.

It was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in July 1998 but delisted on December 16, 1999 after it filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and trade was suspended.

ICO spokesman Johnson said the satellite was fully insured, and that the company hoped the crash would have a minimum impact on its business plan. He said ICO needed only 10 of the 12 satellites it had ordered to operate its network.

"We had two spares precisely in case of this sort of problem," he said.

Related Stories Russian Space Launch With U.S. Payload Fails (Mar 12 12:44 pm ET);

-- (, March 12, 2000

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