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Space Systems/Loral and Sea Launch Form Independent Oversight Board


10 September , 2012


Space Systems/Loral and Sea Launch AG announced the formation of a three person Independent Oversight Board to oversee the ongoing investigation into the root cause of an anomaly on a recently launched satellite. The Independent Oversight Board will be made up of impartial industry experts, nominated by the two companies.

The Independent Oversight Board will guide the joint SS/L-Sea Launch investigation team, which has been working together for several weeks to collect and analyze data with the objective of determining the root cause of damage to one solar array on an SS/L 1300 satellite that was launched on May 31, 2012 on a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL vehicle.

Instrument data showed an unexpected, isolated event around 72 seconds after liftoff, which registered on sensors on the rocket. Following the launch, SS/L and Sea Launch each conducted independent investigations to examine and analyze spacecraft and launch vehicle build records, ground test data and flight telemetry data, including readings from accelerometers, pressure sensors, and microphones in the payload compartment. Those analyses identified no shortcomings in the build quality or ground testing, but so far have not identified the root cause of the anomaly.

"Space Systems/Loral has had many successful launches on the Sea Launch Zenit rocket beginning in 2003," said John Celli, president of SS/L. "We always enjoy working with the Sea Launch team and we see this as an opportunity to ensure our mutual success going forward. Together we are determined to uncover the source of this anomaly."

"Sea Launch and Space Systems/Loral agree that forming an independent oversight board will greatly benefit our joint efforts to identify the root cause," said Kjell Karlsen, president of Sea Launch AG. "Our relationship with Space Systems/Loral is strong and we are committed to working together in assuring satellite operators and the insurance community that any risk has been mitigated."

The Independent Oversight Board and the joint SS/L-Sea Launch team will continue to work together over the coming weeks to consolidate the results of their independent investigations and to identify additional analyses and tests to be performed. With the Independent Oversight Board driving the effort, the goal will be to identify the root cause of the anomaly within three months' time.