International Launch Services (ILS) have launched a Russian Proton M launch vehicle from Pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 20:44 UTC. The vehicle is on a nine hour journey to loft the ASTRA 1M telecommunications satellite into orbit.
The first three stages of the Proton will use a standard ascent trajectory to place the Breeze-M fourth stage and the satellite into a suborbital trajectory from which the Breeze M Upper Stage will then place itself and the spacecraft into a low Earth circular parking orbit.
The Proton booster is 4.1 m (13.5 ft) in diameter along its second and third stages, with a first stage diameter of 7.3 m (24.0 ft). Overall height of the three stages of the Proton booster is 42.3 m (138.8 ft).
The first stage consists of a central tank containing the oxidizer surrounded by six outboard fuel tanks. Each fuel tank also carries one of the six RD-275 engines that provide first stage power. Total first stage sea-level thrust is approximately 9.6 MN (2,158,000 lbf) with a vacuum-rated level thrust of 10.5 MN (2,360,000 lbf).
The second stage is powered by three RD-0210 engines plus one RD-0211 engine and develops a vacuum thrust of 2.3 MN (517,000 lbf).
The third stage is powered by one RD-0213 engine, this stage develops thrust of 583 kN (131,000 lbf), and a four-nozzle vernier engine that produces thrust of 31 kN (7,000 lbf).
The Breeze M is powered by one pump fed gimbaled main engine that develops thrust of 19.6 kN (4,400 lbf). The Breeze-M is composed of a central core and a jettisonable additional propellant tank. Inert mass of the stage at lift-off is approximately 2,370 kg (5,225 lb).
The quantity of propellant carried is dependent on specific mission requirements and is varied to maximize mission performance. The Breeze M is controlled by a closed loop, triple-redundant guidance system.
The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the ASTRA 1M satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.
From this point in the mission, the Breeze M will perform planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separation of the ASTRA 1M satellite is scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 12 minutes into the mission.
ASTRA 1M will be positioned at 19.2 degrees East longitude, where it will provide pan-European coverage. It will primarily deliver direct-to-home services, including high-definition television.
The launch of the spacecraft will allow SES ASTRA to move capacity to its increasingly important orbital position 23.5 degrees East. ASTRA 1M will carry 36 transponders covering the FSS and BSS frequency bands.