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Dummy Satellite Orbiting Earth

March 29, 1999

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ A dummy satellite orbited 23,000 miles above Earth Sunday, signaling success for the innovative launch pad floating in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The demonstration launch was a critical step for Sea Launch Co., which has put $500 million into the first commercial marine-based launch system in hopes of capturing a chunk of the growing business of boosting communications satellites.

``The mission is considered a complete success,″ said Tim Dolan, spokesman for U.S. aerospace giant Boeing, which owns part of Sea Launch. ``You can indeed launch a rocket of that size from a floating platform.″

The Ukrainian- and Russian-built Zenit-3SL rocket carried a dummy satellite as it lifted off at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday from the Odyssey, a converted oil rig stationed 1,400 miles south of Hawaii.

Fueled by kerosene and liquid oxygen, the three-stage rocket ignited and engulfed the platform in a cloud of smoke, then rapidly hurtled toward space. About an hour later, the satellite separated from the third stage at an altitude of 1,200 miles and continued on toward its planned position 23,000 miles above Earth.

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