Sea Launch Project
New Skies-8 Launch
Preparations for the New Skies-8 mission started in November 2007.
The objective of the launch was to deliver a 5.978 ton spacecraft into its target geotransfer orbit with 0 deg. inclination and design perigee altitude of 250 km and apogee altitude of 37246 km.
The spacecraft is intended for direct broadband broadcasting from geostationary orbit.
Prepared for this launch were launch vehicle Zenit-2S No.SL24 and upper stage Block DM-SL No.25L.
CHRONOLOGY OF ACTIVITIES
|November 14, 2006 – January 11, 2007
Home Port activities:
- Tests on LV Zenit-2S ¹SL24;
- Tests and filling with high-boiling propellants of the upper stage Block DM-SL ¹25L;
- SC activities;
- Integrated rehearsal #1 with simulations of pre-launch processing contingencies;
- ILV assembly and testing;
- ILV "dry roll-out" (erecting the vehicle on the launch pad and running through the Critical Launch Readiness Checklist);
- Loading propellant components and compressed gases on the vessels;
- Annual maintenance activities on the rocket segment hardware.
|January 11 – 23, 2007
Sea transit of the launch platform and the assembly and command ship to the launch site. Activities during the transit phase:
- Integrated rehearsal #2;
- Integrated rehearsal #3 involving the entire personnel, and virtually all the internal and outsourced launch support and flight tracking assets.
|January 23-30, 2007
Pre-launch processing activities at the launch site.
|January 31, 2007
All the operations of the automated pre-launch sequence were performed without any anomaly detected. ILV lift-off signal was detected at 02:21:59 A.M. Moscow Time (January 30, 2007 at 03:21:59 P.M. Standard Pacific Time). After the Lift-off signal was received, an uncharacteristic flash of light was visually observed in the area of the launch pad and the ILV tail section, followed with an appearance of an unusually dense smoke on the launch platform. No ILV lifting-off was observed. Due to the first stage engine failure to reach the nominal thrust level (about 92%) and subsequent loss of thrust after rising a little above the launch pad, the ILV went down though the launch pad opening into the sea.
In accordance with the standard procedure, no personnel involved in the launch preparations were present at that time on the launch platform (they were evacuated three hours prior to launch).
The subsequent status analysis of the Launch Platform systems and hardware, performed by the personnel who returned to the Platform, revealed that the relatively light damage sustained by the Platform would not preclude the Platform equipment from being reset and the Platform itself from making the sea transit back to the Home Port on its own to be further studied and repaired there, which was actually done.
To investigate the causes of this off-nominal situation, an inter-departmental Ukrainian-Russian commission was established, which completed its work in early days of March, 2007.
The commission has confirmed that all the processes and results of the ILV pre-launch processing at the Home Port, during sea transit, and at the launch site, fully complied with operational documentation.
According to the Commission’s findings, the off-nominal situation resulted from a fire in the first stage engine, which was caused by a metal particle that had found its way into the area of the oxidizer pump impeller.
The Commission submitted to further inquiry all the factory processing operations on the launch vehicle and the engine, developed recommendations for ruling out a recurrence of such a situation in the future, and a schedule for implementing the necessary measures.
An analysis of the off-nominal situation consequences for the launch platform and the support equipment installed on it identified the actual damage locations and the required scope and schedule of repairs.
The currently adopted decisions and the on-going recovery activities on the Launch Platform and its equipment will allow resuming pre-launch processing in the fall of this year and making two launches in 2007.