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Satnews Daily
April 16th, 2009

Sea Launch Counts Down to SICRAL 1B Launch

The Sea Launch team is initiating a 72-hour countdown at its equatorial launch site, in preparation for the launch of Telespazio’s SICRAL 1B communications satellite on April 20. Liftoff is planned at 01:16 am PDT (8:16 GMT), at the opening of a 57-minute launch window.

The team arrived at the launch site, at 154 degrees West Longitude, on April 15 and began ballasting operations to increase stability at launch depth. A final series of tests on the launch system and the spacecraft are now underway. Prior to fueling operations, the platform will be evacuated, with all personnel safely positioned on the ship, now in launch position about four miles from the platform. Less than two hours after liftoff, a Zenit-3SL vehicle will insert the the 3,038 kg (6,697 lb) satellite into a high perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit, on its way to a final orbital position at 11.8 degrees East Longitude.

Built by Thales Alenia Space for a 13-year design life, the dual-use Italsat 3000 spacecraft includes one EHF/Ka band, three UHF-band and five active SHF-band transponders. Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company, will use some of the satellite's transmission capacity to support communications services to NATO and the European defense market, while meeting evolving requirements of both the Italian defense ministry and NATO.

Sea Launch will provide live coverage of the SICRAL 1B mission via satellite and website, beginning at 1:00 am (8:00 GMT) on April 20. Live streaming video will be posted at. Transponder coordinates for downlinking our live satellite feed will be provided at.