After Anomaly, Assessment Time for SES, EchoStar - DIRECTV 11 Update

The late Friday flight of the AMC-14 satellite didn't go well for launch services provider International Launch Services and its customer, SES AMERICOM.

ILS called a launch anomaly after the satellite failed to reach its planned orbit. While that wasn't good news for the direct parties involved, the situation could create challenges for EchoStar, which was set to lease capacity aboard the satellite for an expansion of HD services for DISH Network.

In a statement, the company said, "EchoStar is awaiting further data on the AMC-14 proton launch anomaly prior to assessing the potential effects on our plans for that satellite."

ILS said preliminary flight information indicated that the anomaly occurred during the second burn of the Breeze M upper stage. Because of that, the satellite failed to reach its planned orbit.

While the satellite is in a lower orbit, the spacecraft may not be a complete loss. News sources quoted Russian space officials who said the satellite could use its own propulsion system to reach the correct orbit. Still, that could compromise the bird's expected life in service.

ILS said a Russian State Commission has started the process of determining the reasons for the anomaly. ILS also said it will form its own Failure Review Oversight Board.

Meanwhile, Sea Launch is preparing for this afternoon's launch of the DIRECTV 11 satellite. As of press time late Sunday, Sea Launch said lift-off of the bird, which also will expand capacity for the satellite TV giant, is set for 3:49 p.m. Pacific Time.