Thuraya-3 satellite launch delayed until November 20

MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - The delayed launch of a Zenit-3SL rocket with a Thuraya-3 communications satellite from the Pacific Ocean will go ahead on November 20, a Sea Launch consortium spokesperson said on Monday.

"The launch is scheduled for Tuesday, November 20, 6.29 p.m. Moscow time (3.29 p.m. GMT)," Paula Korn said, adding that the launch, originally scheduled for November 18, had been delayed due to poor weather conditions.

The consortium, established in 1995, is owned by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner ASA, Ukraine's Yuzhmash, and Russia's RSC-Energia, and is the only company which launches its vehicles from the equator, allowing the rockets to carry heavier payloads than from other latitudes.

This is the first launch of the Zenit carrier rocket following a January 30 booster rocket explosion that slightly damaged the Odyssey Launch Platform. The commission investigating the accident concluded that the failure originated in the liquid oxygen turbo-pump section of the RD-171M main engine, manufactured by Russia's power machine-building company Energomash.

Thuraya Telecommunications Co., based in the United Arab Emirates, began commercial operations in mid-2001, following Sea Launch's successful deployment of Thuraya 1 on October 20, 2000. Sea Launch successfully orbited Thuraya-2 on June 10, 2003.

The 5,180 kg (11,420 lb) Thuraya-3 spacecraft, built by Boeing, is designed to expand Thuraya's system capacity and coverage area to East Asia.

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