Russian Proton M launches Luch-5A and AMOS-5 satellites

by Chris Bergin

A Russian government Proton-M launch vehicle has successfully launched with two satellites – Russia’s Luch-5A and Israel’s AMOS-5 – on Sunday. Launch was nominal and on schedule at 11:17 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ahead of a long flight profile which involved four burns of the Briz-M (Breeze-M) Upper Stage.

Proton Launch:

The Russian Luch 5A satellite has a mass of 2.4 metric tons, featuring two photovoltaic arrays, which provide 1.8 kW of power. Three large antennas and numerous small helical antennas enable data relays in the 15/14, 15/11, and 0.9/0.7 GHz bands.

Five satellites have been built on the heritage of this platform (KAUR-4), but only four were launched, namely Kosmos 1700, Kosmos 1897, Kosmos 2054 and Luch-1 – none of which are currently operational. The second generation platform included several improvements. Only one satellite in this range was launched – Luch-2 1 – which is also no longer operational.

Two more satellites in the Luch-5A range are scheduled to be launched – Luch-5B in 2012 and and Luch-4 in 2013.

Israel’s AMOS-5 satellite is aimed at Africa’s emerging satellite services market, taking position at the new 17 Degrees East location. Once in orbit, the AMOS-5 satellite will feature a fixed pan-African C-band beam and three steerable Ku-band beams – all covering Africa with connectivity to Europe and the Middle East and supporting multiple transponders in both C-band and Ku-band.

Together with the AMOS-2 and the AMOS-3 satellites co-located at Spacecom’s 4 Degrees W orbital “hot spot,” the AMOS-5 satellite will give the company’s customers coverage over many of the world’s fastest growing and highest-demand satellite markets in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa.

With an expected lifetime of 15 years, AMOS-5 sports 18 Ku-band and 18 C-band transponders, providing a variety of coverage, including Direct-To-Home TV broadcasting services.

The Proton booster tasked with the launch of the satellite duo was 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, a recent upgrade which utilizes 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.

It was a problem with that upper stage which resulted in the loss of the Ekspress-AM4 communications satellite in August, when the stage, otherwise known as the Briz-M, failed to insert the satellite into the correct transfer orbit due to a problem with the last of the mission profile burns.

This failure led to a delay for the ViaSat-1 mission, which was initially scheduled for September, prior to its successful launch – conducted by International Launch Services – on October 19.

(Images via Tsenki and Roscosmos).

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