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    MOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti corr. Alexander Kovalyov) -The Zenit-3SL booster with the Brazilian communications satellite Estrela do Sul was launched from a floating platform in the Pacific ocean at 7.13 Moscow time. It became the first space launch in the new year. At 8.18 Moscow time the booster successfully put the satellite into the calculated orbit. Thus, the first space launch of 2004 may be considered successful, said Russia's Mission Control.

    Estrela is designed to render telecomm services to Brazil residents as well as to ensure Internet access to passengers of airliners during flights over the Atlantic. The spacecraft was built by American corporation Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) and is designed for 15 years of operation.

    The launch was made in the framework of joint program Sea Launch. Among Sea Launch joint enterprise founders are Russian space and rocket corporation Energia, Ukraine's aerospace enterprises - Yuzhmashzavod production association and Yuzhnoye design bureau, American concern Boeing, as well as Norwegian shipbuilding company Kvarner.

    Spacecraft are orbited from the equatorial area in the Pacific ocean situated near the Christmas Island. Launches are made from the ocean platform Odyssey with the help of the Zenit 3SL booster with the acceleration unit DM-SL. The complex is made up of a launch pad built by Norwegian company Kvarner on the basis of a self-propelled platform for oil production industry, as well as assemblage command ship and floating measuring complex Selena.

    The launching complex is placed on a sea platform the height of 50m and the displacement of 40,000 metric tons. It ensures the storage of the rocket in the dock during the transition to the launch location, installation of Zenit onto the launching board and its fuelling.

    The launch is carried out by an automated control system and does not require the presence of personnel at the starting platform.

    The technical complex of the Sea Launch is situated on the assemblage command ship and is designed for assembling and testing carrier rockets. Upon the necessary checks, the rocket is transshipped onto a conveyor and is immediately delivered to the launching board. Two assembled carrier rockets may be kept at the ship at the same time.

    While creating the ship, the Kvarner company used the model of a sea container carrier. The ship has a displacement of over 30,000 tons and a speed of up to 16 knots. For the staff's work and rest there are all necessary conditions - comfortable cabins, conference halls, a theater, drawing rooms, cafes, game rooms, a fitness hall and a swimming pool.

    The Zenit 3SL booster was designed at the Ukrainian Yangel design bureau Yuzhnoye, and built at the Yuzhmashzavod enterprise in Dnepropetrovsk. The acceleration unit DM for Zenit is produced by the Russian space and rocket corporation Energia. The Sea Launch complex was created without attraction of state funds but under the supervision of Rosaviakosmos and Russia's defense ministry, as well as Ukraine's national space agency and the US Commercial Space Transportation Committee.

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