The Sea Launch Rocket and Space Complex, the Pacific Ocean – Mission Control Center, the city of Korolev.

At 06:51:00 Moscow Time (03:51:00 GMT) the first in this year scheduled launch of Zenit-3SL Integrated Launch Vehicle (ILV) with the upper stage (US) Block DM-SL as the third stage and XM Radio-3 spacecraft as the mission-specific commercial payload was made from the sea-going Launch Platform (LP) Odyssey of the Sea Launch Rocket and Space Complex During the launch the Launch Platform was floating in equatorial area of the Pacific Ocean at West Longitude of 154°, in the vicinity of Christmas Island.

The launch has been made after being postponed several times (original launch date was February 17th) due to the combined unfavorable sea and weather conditions at launch area and the taken decision on February 23rd to terminate the Flight Readiness Check List procedure 7 minutes before the launch because of the off-nominal conditions for the launch vehicle. According to the long-term weather observations this region of the Earth has not earlier seen such adverse sea and weather conditions. In specialists’ opinion, these abnormal conditions were due to the globally proceeding processes causing climatic changes.

The objective of the launch was to deliver a 4.7 ton spacecraft to a target geosynchronous target orbit with the following design parameters: inclination – 0°; perigee altitude of 2468 km and apogee altitude of 35786 km.

The US with SC were placed into transfer LEO by the two-stage launch vehicle (LV) Zenit-2S. Further SC insertion into the target orbit was made by the upper stage Block DM-SL.

During the insertion a flight profile with the two burns of the US main engine was used. The first burn was performed following about 10 seconds upon separation of the upper stage and SC from the LV second stage. The second burn was fired 30 minutes after the completion of the main engine operation. Following 11 minutes upon the completion of the second burn SC was separated. Reliable operation of the main engine made it possible to provide a highly accurate SC insertion into the planned target orbit. It was for the first time in the flight history of placing different SC into geosynchronous transfer orbits that such an extremely high accuracy was reached. At 7 hours: 52 minutes Moscow Time SC separated from the upper stage.

This was the 249th successful mission of the upper stage of DM (D) type developed and manufactured by S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia). XM Radio-3 spacecraft will carry out an autonomous transfer to the given orbital position located in geostationary orbit, where it will start broadcasting programs in a digital format throughout the US continental territory.

SC launches from the sea-based cosmodrome are implemented by international joint-stock company Sea Launch whose shareholders are the Boeing Company (USA); RSC Energia (Russia), Kvaerner Group Companies (Norway) and Ukrainian aerospace enterprises (Production Association (PO) Yuzhmashzavod and SDO Yuzhnoye.

Korolev RSC Energia in the Sea Launch Project is the prime enterprise for its Rocket Segment as part of the Rocket and Space Complex. In cooperation with the Russian and Ukrainian enterprises involved, it is responsible for this Segment integration, outfitting and operational use, as well as the Block DM-SL manufacturing and operation.

Prelaunch processing and launch operations were controlled from the Control Center aboard the Sea Launch Commander Assembly – Command Ship (ACS) taken away at a safe distance from the Launch Platform. The prelaunch operations started 6 hours prior to the launch and were performed in an automatic mode. All the LP personnel had been evacuated to ACS 3 hours before the launch.

The prelaunch processing and launch operations in the launch area were conducted under the direction of the Sea Launch Company’s Mission Director D.Dubs and the Rocket Segment Operations Manager RSC Energia’s Deputy Designer General V.G. Aliev.

Analysis of the US/SC flight was performed by the specialists working for RSC Energia and included in the specially established Lead Operations Control Team (LOCT) housed in the Mission Control Center (MCC-M), the city of Korolev, Moscow Region. LOCT maintained continuous communication with the ACS-based Control Center. The LOCT Manager is V.A. Solovyov, Pilot-Cosmonaut, RSC Energia’s Deputy Designer General.

In support of the mission analysis, the Upper Stage–transmitted telemetry information was received by both the American satellite communications and ground measurement stations on the territory of Russia.

Present in the MCC-M mission control room during preparations for launch and launch were the managers and specialists form RSC Energia, representatives of other Russian subcontractors involved in the Project implementation.

Upon SC Separation from the Upper Stage, the MCC-M telephoned congratulations on the successful launch to V.G. Aliev, the Rocket Segment Operations Manager, the team of RSC Energia’s specialists and the ACS and LP personnel as a whole.

That was the fifteenth launch under the Sea Launch Program. The first launch took place an March 28th, 1999. The next launch is slated for April 2005.