Rocket carrying New Skies satellite blows up

A Sea Launch rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite blew up during its launch from an oceangoing platform in the equatorial Pacific, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Boeing-built NSS-8 satellite was intended for Netherlands-based SES New Skies.

'There was an explosion as we were lifting off,' Sea Launch spokeswoman Paula Korn was quoted as saying.

The platform is cleared of all personnel during launches, which are conducted remotely by a mission control team aboard a ship, the Sea Launch Commander, stationed several kilometers away.

Korn did not know the condition of the self-propelled platform Odyssey, a converted oil platform, the report said.

It was not known if the Zenit-3SL rocket actually lifted off the platform.

A Webcast of the launch was halted and replaced with the message: 'Anomaly on NSS-8 mission. Broadcast concluded.'

A failure review oversight board will be formed to determine what happened, Korn said.

The NSS-8 satellite, which was insured, was to have been used for audio, video, data and Internet services for countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Asia, Sea Launch said. SES New Skies has five other satellites in orbit and another under construction, the report said.