...Independent Oversight Board (IOB) formed to investigate the solar array deployment anomaly on a satellite launched in the spring of 2012 has successfully reached a unanimous conclusion. The IOB, which was comprised of three highly regarded industry experts, worked with a comprehensive team of engineers from SSL and Sea Launch to conduct an exhaustive investigation of data from the launch vehicle, the spacecraft, and interactions between the two. Extensive data provided by Sea Launch were instrumental in achieving the findings which led to the investigation’s positive conclusion.
The IOB concluded that the anomaly occurred before the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle, during the ascent phase of the launch, and originated in one of the satellite’s two solar array wings due to a rare combination of factors in the panel fabrication. While the satellite is performing on orbit, the anomaly resulted in structural and electrical damage to one solar array wing, which reduced the amount of power available for payload operation.
After rigorous investigation, the launch vehicle was exonerated from causing or contributing to the anomaly and there were no unexpected interactions between the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. SSL and Energia Logistics Ltd. (ELUS), on behalf of Sea Launch, concurred with the IOB findings.
"SSL and Sea Launch worked together to form the independent review board to ensure that the cause of the anomaly was identified without any bias, preconception or prejudice,” said John Wormington, chairman of the IOB. “Both companies were extremely cooperative in providing the data and analyses that we required, and worked well together in solving this very elusive problem. We have very high confidence in the conclusion."
"I’d like to thank the highly qualified oversight board for conducting this extensive and thorough investigation,” said John Celli, president of SSL. "It was imperative to both ourselves and Sea Launch that we fully understand the cause of the anomaly, and we can now clearly say that interactions between the satellite and launch vehicle were not contributing factors. SSL is already taking actions to assure mission success for all upcoming launches."
“The findings of the IOB have validated that the launch vehicle did not cause or contribute to the observed anomaly,” said Kjell Karlsen, President of Sea Launch AG. “I wish to thank our partners for their dedicated support of the investigation, and contributions of in-depth knowledge and understanding of the launch vehicle design, spacecraft launch environments and integration analyses.” Karlsen continued, “Sea Launch is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist SSL in finding a definitive cause of the anomaly and looks forward to performing many more launches of SSL satellites.”