You may have seen the coverage or caught it on YouTube, but in case you didn’t there was a launch “anomaly” (also known as blowing up) from Tuesday’s Sea Launch attempt to get us some more satellite channels.
Sea Launch is based here in Long Beach and is made up of two vessels. The first is the big, big boat known as the Assembly and Command Ship (pictured) and the second is a retrofitted North Sea oil drilling platform that is semi-submersible ship and operates as the launch platform.
Watch the video. Though the platform has accomodations for 68 crew members, they are not on board during launches.
A preliminary assessment of the Odyssey Launch Platform indicates that, while it has sustained limited damage, the integrity and functionality of essential marine, communications and crew support systems remains intact. The vessel is operating on its own power and is currently manned by the full marine crew. This team is performing a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of the vessel, including its structural integrity and sea-worthiness, in anticipation of identifying and planning the next steps. (link)
The satellite lost was a NSS-8 telecommunications satellite for the Dutch SES New Skies. There are five more launches scheduled for this year. It’s obviously too early to tell if they’re going to be able to fix things in time to make their schedule. The platform and command ship may begin making their way back to Long Beach soon. Apparently the platform is still seaworthy, though they’re still conducting inspections to assure its safety.
Sea Launch is a rather innovative project, though based in Long Beach, the launches take place some 3,000 miles south in the middle of the Pacific at the equator. The launch from this location solves many logistical and safety issues as well as reduces the amount of rocket fuel needed to get the satellite into orbit.