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Sea Launch consortium inks satellite launch contract

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WASHINGTON, May 9 (RIA Novosti) - Sea Launch Company, a consortium including U.S., Norwegian, Russian, and Ukrainian companies said Tuesday it had signed a contract with a U.S telecoms company to put its satellite into orbit.

The company said it would launch an EchoStar XI Direct Broadcast Satellite, which belongs to EchoStar Communications Corporation, from the Odyssey Launch Platform in the Pacific Ocean in 2007 to expand its Dish Network.

The company's press release said it would be the third launch of an EchoStar satellite [conducted by Sea Launch Company].

Sea Launch was created in 1995 as a consortium including Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner Group, leading Russian spacecraft-maker Energia, and Ukraine's Yuzhnoye design bureau and Yuzhmash production association.

It is the only company to operate launches from a sea platform in the Pacific's equatorial waters, a location that makes it possible to launch heavier payloads than from elsewhere.

Sea Launch made four successful launches in 2005, and one in 2006.

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