International Launch Services (ILS) have launched the EchoStar XV telecommunications satellite via their veteran Proton-M launch vehicle and Breeze-M upper stage on Saturday. Lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was on schedule at 18:40 GMT, ahead of over nine hours of flight until the spacecraft was successfully placed into 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 7.4 m (24.3 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-276 engines that provide first stage power. Total first stage vacuum-rated level thrust is 11.0 MN (2,500,000 lbf).
Of conventional cylindrical design, the second stage is powered by three RD-0210 engines plus one RD-0211 engine and develops a vacuum thrust of 2.4 MN (540,000 lbf).
Powered by one RD-0213 engine, the third stage develops thrust of 583 kN (131,000 lbf), and a four-nozzle vernier engine that produces thrust of 31 kN (7,000 lbf). Guidance, navigation, and control of the Proton M during operation of the first three stages is carried out by a triple redundant closed-loop digital avionics system mounted in the Proton’s third stage.
The Breeze-M upper stage is the Phase III variant, with Thursday’s launch being the fourth flight of the new configuration for the avionics bay. The Phase III upgrade uses two new high-pressure tanks (80 liters) to replace six smaller tanks, along with the relocation of command instruments towards the centre – in order to mitigate shock loads when the additional propellant tank is being jettisoned.
The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, will lift off from Pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, with the EchoStar XV satellite on board. The first three stages of the Proton will use a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the EchoStar XV 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 EchoStar XV satellite is scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff.
The EchoStar XV satellite will join DISH Network’s fleet of satellites that serve more than 14 million satellite TV customers in the U.S. From its location at 61.5 degrees west longitude, EchoStar XV will provide Ku-band services over the eastern continental United States.
Built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, California, the 5,521 kg (12,146 lbs) satellite sports 32 Ku-Band transponders and will have a service lifetime of 15 years.
This will be the 7th Proton Launch in 2010, the 5th ILS Proton Launch in 2010, the 61th Proton Launch for ILS, the 4th EchoStar Satellite Launched on ILS Proton, and the 15th Space Systems/Loral Satellite Launched on a Proton.
Proton has already orbited an Echostar payload in March, 2010, with the 6.3 ton Echostar 14 becoming the heaviest satellite launched by Proton.
“ILS is proud to partner with DISH Network, an innovator that continues to lead the TV industry in HD programming and cutting-edge technology,” noted Frank McKenna, president of ILS, following the successful launch of EchoStar 14.
“The successful launch of EchoStar XIV was a significant milestone for ILS Proton as the first commercial launch using the enhanced Phase III performance capabilities. ILS and Khrunichev are very proud to have completed a precise in-orbit delivery of EchoStar XIV to support DISH Network’s continued success.”