Eutelsat 3B. Credit: Astrium

WASHINGTON — A mishap that occurred during vehicle processing led Sea Launch to delay the planned April 15 launch of Eutelsat’s Eutelsat 3B telecommunications satellite, Sea Launch announced March 31.

According to a press release posted on Sea Launch’s website, a lateral plate housing on the interstage truss of the Zenit 3SL launch vehicle incurred mechanical damage due to what the company characterized as a “discrepancy in the nominal movement” of the plate and a cable mast assembly. The incident occurred as the fully integrated rocket was being raised on its ocean-going launch pad at Sea Launch’s Long Beach, Calif., home port.

As a result of the incident, a decision was made to remove the satellite, which is encapsulated in a protective fairing, and the rocket’s Block DM upper stage from the rest of the vehicle “to resolve the issue, establish the root cause and perform additional checks of the interface between the launch vehicle and ground support equipment connectors,” Sea Launch said.

A new launch date will be announced once those tasks have been completed, Sea Launch said, adding that Eutelsat 3B was unaffected by the incident.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...