ILS Proton-M launches Intelsat 22 on debut supersynchronous mission

by Chris Bergin

International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their second Proton-M rocket of the year on Sunday. Lift off was on schedule at 12:10 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with the Proton’s Briz-M Upper Stage tasked with deploying the Intelsat 22 telecommunications satellite into a 65,000 km super-synchronous transfer orbit for the first time under ILS.

ILS Proton Launch:

The Proton booster tasked with the launch of the satellite 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 Proton vehicle has a heritage of 373 launches since 1965 and is built by Khrunichev Research and State Production Center, one of the pillars of the global space industry and the majority owner of ILS.

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 a 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.

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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.

This was the first supersynchronous mission for ILS Proton, after previously using the vehicle mainly for geostationary missions. As a result, this mission took over six hours longer than usual to complete.

The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, lifted off from Pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome with the first three stages of the Proton utilizing a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the Intelsat 22 satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.

From this point in the mission, the Breeze M performed 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 geostationary transfer orbit.

Separation of the Intelsat 22 satellite was on scheduled at approximately 15 hours, 30 minutes after liftoff. Target orbit at separation is listed as 3,791 km Perigee, 65,000 km Apogee with an inclination of 28.5 degrees.

“From contract signing to delivery to orbit, ILS and Khrunichev were squarely focused on launching the Intelsat 22 satellite on schedule and successfully meeting Intelsat’s requirements for this important SSTO mission on ILS Proton.  Intelsat is a leader and innovator in the satellite telecommunications industry, having established the first global commercial satellite communications network,” noted ILS President Frank McKenna.

“It’s a true honor to facilitate Intelsat’s global mobility network with the ILS Proton launch of Intelsat 22, supporting Intelsat’s customers in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, as well as its hosted payload customer, the Australian Defence Force. We look forward to performing our next mission with Intelsat, the ILS Proton launch of the Intelsat 23 satellite later this year.”

The 6,199 kg Intelsat 22 was built by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems, based around the Boeing 702MP Platform. It is expected to have a service life of 18 years.

As part of Intelsat’s 2012 fleet replacement and expansion plans, Intelsat 22 will carry two Ku-band mobility beams providing coverage of the Indian Ocean region, which will blanket busy maritime and aeronautical routes.

“The launch of Intelsat 22 is a significant milestone in many respects, not the least of which is its role in demonstrating the viability of hosted payloads in delivering customized space solutions for government users.  On time and on budget, the delivery of the UHF payload for the Australian Defence Force successfully demonstrates how hosted payloads are embraced by governments seeking cost-efficient access to space,” said Intelsat CEO Dave McGlade. 

From its position at 72 degrees East, Intelsat 22 will have Ku-band capacity serving the Middle East and eastern Africa. Its C-band hemi beams coverage will provide connectivity to and from most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and eastern Asia. It is also tasked with aiding communications for the Australian armed forces.

In total, Intelsat 22 sports 48 C-band transponders, 24 Ku-band transponders and 18 UHF transponders.

“ILS is able to offer Intelsat unique flexibility and schedule reliability for this critical hosted payload mission. ILS and Khrunichev look forward to supporting Intelsat’s continued growth and expansion of its fleet through the launch of Intelsat 22 and Intelsat 23 satellites,” added Mr McKenna.

ILS also recently announced a new contract for launch of the MEXSAT-1 satellite on an ILS Proton for the Mexican government’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation, the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT).

The satellite is currently under construction by Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, California – where Intelsat 22 was built. ILS and Khrunichev are implementing a mission integration schedule to support a ILS Proton launch of MEXSAT-1 into geostationary transfer orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in 2013-14.

MEXSAT-1 is a high-power, 5800 kg satellite built on Boeing’s 702 HP platform for GEO-Mobile services, designed for a lifetime of 15 years. The satellite will carry a 22-meter L-band reflector for mobile terminal links, complemented by a 2-meter Ku-band antenna.

Located at the orbital location of 113 degrees West, MEXSAT-1 will join the country’s current satellite fleet to offer mobile satellite services and fixed satellite services to support governmental, civil and humanitarian efforts.

“We are honored to be selected by SCT to deploy the expanded coverage of communication services throughout Mexico with the launch of MEXSAT-1 on ILS Proton,” added Mr McKenna. “ILS and Khrunichev are poised to support SCT’s schedule requirements and look forward to delivering outstanding value with an ILS Proton launch.”

(Images via ILS, Roscosmos and Boeing).

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