Officials announced Friday afternoon that there was a "delay" getting one of the two arrays on the Intelsat 19 spacecraft unfurled, although no further details on what was happening aboard the satellite were provided.
"Intelsat and Space Systems/Loral, the manufacturer of the satellite, are investigating the cause and are pursuing corrective actions. The spacecraft is secure at this time in geostationary transfer orbit," Intelsat said in a statement.
The three-stage Sea Launch booster was launched at 1:23 a.m. EDT (0523 GMT) and released the spacecraft in the intended orbit 60 minutes later. Plans called for the arrays to be extended today in preparation for the start of orbit-raising maneuvers to reach a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles high.
The craft is slated to replace the Intelsat 8, launched nearly 14 years ago, at the 166-degrees East orbit slot that serves 37 million television subscribers across the Pacific Rim.
"Intelsat 8 is currently expected to remain in service through the end of 2019, and no customer services are immediately affected by the delay," Intelsat said of replacement's solar array deployment issue.
The new satellite and its launch are fully insured, company said.
Intelsat originally hoped to have its newest spacecraft in service by July.
"Intelsat 19 will host a prime video neighborhood, with C-band capacity providing enhanced performance for distribution of international video content throughout the Asia-Pacific region and increased Ku-band capacity optimized for DTH," Intelsat CEO Dave McGlade said immediately following the launch.
"Additionally, this satellite is a critical element of what will be the world's first single operator global broadband mobility network when it is completed in early 2013."
This was Intelsat's second launch this year. It plans to fly three more satellites this summer - Intelsat 20 built by SS/L, Intelsat 21 made by Boeing and Intelsat 23 from Orbital Sciences.
Operators will spend the coming days maneuvering Intelsat 19 into its circular geostationary orbit. Deployment of the craft's appendages and testing will follow before the satellite goes operational.
Intelsat will operate the commercial satellite in geostationary orbit at its 166-degree East longitude location to provide video broadcasting and telecommunications services across Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Alaska and Hawaii.
It replaces Intelsat 8, which was launched in 1998 aboard a Russian Proton rocket under the name PAS 8 for PanAmSat and later joined Intelsat through a fleet merger.
Intelsat 19 was built by Space System/Loral using the 1300E high-powered satellite platform. The 12,300-pound craft is equipped with a communications payload consisting of 34 Ku-Band and 24 C-band transponders, a pair of power-generating solar wings spanning 85 feet and a life expectancy exceeding 15 years.
The destined orbit slot currently reaches more than 37 million television subscribers around the Pacific Rim that Intelsat 19 can serve through its video distribution capabilities.
The C-band transponders will relay 100 channels including networks like the Discovery Channel, Disney and NHK. The Ku-band capacity goes to direct-to-home TV broadcasting for Australia and New Zealand, plus blanketing the vast Pacific for maritime, aeronautical and government broadband mobility connections.
The next Sea Launch mission is planned for August when the Intelsat 21 satellite is delivered into orbit to service direct-to-home television markets in Latin America.
During this coast period between completion of the Block DM-SL stage's burn and spacecraft separation, the stage is providing the necessary control and orientation for payload release.
The arm is being lowered to the platform deck where it will be returned to the hangar and the doors closed for launch.
Fueling operations have been completed aboard the Odyssey platform. Over the past couple of hours, the rocket was loaded with kerosene propellant and cryogenic liquid oxygen. The platform was cleared of all workers prior to this hazardous activity, with all personnel moved to the Sea Launch Commander ship safely positioned about three miles uprange.
It will be the second flight for Sea Launch since the firm emerged from bankruptcy and corporate restructuring, having successfully gotten back into the business of hauling satellites to space last September.
The 20-story-tall Zenit 3SL rocket is targeting a 0523 GMT (1:23 a.m. EDT) launch from its platform stationed in the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean about 1,400 miles southeast of Hawaii. The day's available launch window extends 120 minutes to 0723 GMT (3:23 a.m. EDT).
It will be Sea Launch's 32nd mission since its inaugural flight in March 1999. The company's concept uses the planet's advantageous rotation speed at the equator to help gain velocity en route to space, increasing the amount of payload that can be carried to the orbit utilized by geosynchronous communications satellites.
The payload going up this time is Intelsat 19, a powerful communications spacecraft for the Pacific Rim that will focus its digital footprints on Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Alaska and Hawaii.
The Sea Launch fleet reached the launch site a few days ago after steaming for more than a week from the company's home port in Long Beach, California. The ocean-going launch pad known as Odyssey set sail first, followed later by the departure of the Sea Launch Commander vessel, which houses the launch control center, management team and official guests.
Odyssey's ballast tanks were filled with seawater upon arrival at the launch site, dropping the converted Norwegian oil-drilling platform to the launch depth of 65 feet. Control teams also commenced the standard 72-hour countdown.
The Sea Launch Commander then pulled alongside Odyssey to allow workers to easily transfer between the two ships.
The rocket was rolled out from its hangar aboard Odyssey and hydraulically hoisted upright on the launch pedestal Wednesday.
Odyssey is positioned along the equator at 154 degrees West longitude. The rocket will fly eastward, ultimately releasing its payload high above the Indian Ocean.
The three-stage Zenit booster will take exactly one hour to complete its role in delivering the Intelsat 19 payload into a planned orbit with a low point of 540 miles and a high point of about 22,143 miles. The injection orbit's inclination will be zero degrees relative to the equator.
Intelsat 19 will use its own propulsion system to circularize the orbit to geostationary altitude, where its velocity will match that of Earth's rotation and appear parked at 166 degrees East longitude to provide telecommunications relay services.
Launch controllers will spend the last hours of Thursday evening's countdown making final preparations to the rocket, payload and ground infrastructure. The Sea Launch Commander moves from the Odyssey platform to a safe viewing distance about three miles away.
Fueling operations will get underway about two-and-a-half hours prior to the scheduled liftoff time. A mix of refined kerosene and liquid oxygen comprise the propellant used by all three stages of the launch vehicle.
After igniting its main engine and ascending from the platform, the Zenit 3SL will fly downrange on a due east trajectory hugging the equator. The four-chamber RD-171 engine on the Ukrainian-made first stage ramps up to a maximum of 1.6 million pounds of thrust during its burn lasting two-and-a-half minutes.
Once the first stage separates 43 miles up, the RD-120 powerplant on Ukrainian-made second stage will come to life. During that firing, the payload fairing that shielded the Intelsat 19 satellite during the climb through the denser lower atmosphere will be jettisoned 73 miles in altitude at T+plus 3 minutes, 49 seconds.
Some eight minutes, 31 seconds after blastoff is the point when the second stage will separate from the Russian Block-DM upper stage and payload at an altitude of 114 miles. Ten seconds later, the motor will ignite for an five-minute burn to place itself in a temporary parking orbit with a low point of 112 miles and a high point of 662 miles.
Following a lengthy coast phase, the Block-DM will ignite again at T+plus 43 minutes, 48 seconds for a six-and-a-half-minute-long boost to inject Intelsat 19 into its targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Spacecraft separation from the rocket to complete the launch is expected 60 minutes into flight, or 0623 GMT (2:23 a.m. EDT) based on an on-time liftoff.
Check this page during the launch for live updates on the mission's progress.
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