The Boeing-led Sea Launch company successfully launched a Zenit 3SL booster from the Odyssey mobile launch platform in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on 21 October, carrying the Thuraya communications satellite for the United Arab Emirates. Thuraya will operate in geostationary orbit at 44°E.


The launch of the 5,108kg (11,200lb) Thuraya satellite marked a milestone as the heaviest commercial payload in history, Boeing says.

The Thuraya turnkey mobile communications system is being provided by Boeing Satellite Systems' first Geosynchronous Mobile (GEM) spacecraft based on the Boeing 702 spacecraft bus and equipped with a 78kg, 12.25m (40ft) diameter aperture reflector, which was packed into a 1.3m diameter container for launch.

A second spacecraft has been built as a ground spare and there is an option for a third. Thuraya marks Boeing's "entry into the provision of a complete space-based turnkey mobile communications system, including satellite, ground segment and mobile phones, capable of providing services to 1.8 billion people", says Tig Krekel, president of the company's satellite systems division.

Source: Flight International