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By | November 2, 2000

      After an initial delay, Sea Launch successfully launched the Thuraya 1 mobile communications satellite late last Friday night from its Odyssey launch platform. At 5,108kg, Sea Launch said the satellite was the heaviest commercial payload ever.

      The Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket lifted off from the platform, which was positioned on the Equator at 154 degrees West, at 22:52, PDT. It reached geosynchronous transfer orbit about two hours and 22 minutes later. Its final position will be 44 degrees East, with an inclination of 6.3 degrees.

      The launch was postponed for two days due to a problem with the instrumentation, which required that much time to fix, test and get back into the countdown process.

      The satellite, which has a life span of 12 years, is owned by the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

      The satellite was built by Boeing Satellite Services (BSS), formerly Hughes Space and Communications, and got a signal from the satellite when it reached geosynchronous transfer orbit and reported that all of its systems were operating normally.

      Its footprint covers the Middle East, North and Central Africa, southern Europe and the Indian subcontinent. About 1.8 billion people live in these regions. Thuraya 1 will provide voice service, including enhancements such as voice mail and interactive voice response, data and facsimile services.

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