ILS Proton M launches Nimiq 6 for Canada

by Chris Bergin

International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their Proton-M rocket, the third global launch of what has been a very busy Thursday. Lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was on schedule at 19:12 GMT, with the Proton’s Briz-M Upper Stage then tasked with deploying the large telecommunications satellite after nine hours of flight.
Proton M Launch:

The Proton booster that launched 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 nearly 400 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.

The flight was utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, with the first three stages of the Proton using a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit, consisting of the Breeze M upper stage and the Nimiq 6 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 Nimiq 6 satellite was scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 14 minutes after liftoff – an event classed by ILS as successful.

Nimiq 6 is a Direct Broadcast Satellite built by Space Systems/Loral. The satellite has a 32 transponder Ku- Band payload providing coverage of Canada. The satellite will be located at 91.1 degrees west longitude. This satellite will be dedicated to the provision of direct-to-home services as part of Telesat’s DTH fleet.

“ILS has a longstanding history with Telesat beginning with the first ILS Proton launch of Nimiq 1 over ten years ago, Canada’s first direct broadcast digital TV satellite,” noted ILS president Frank McKenna after the launch contract was awarded to ILS.

“Having just launched Nimiq 5 for Telesat last fall, ILS and Khrunichev are honored to have the opportunity to again work with the Telesat and Space Systems/Loral teams on the Nimiq 6 program.”

The Space Systems/Loral satellite was built on 1300 platform and has a mass of 4,500 kg. The spacecraft sports 32 High Powered Ku-Band Transponders and has a design Life of 15 years.

“Since our first Nimiq satellite on an ILS Proton, Telesat has counted on ILS to deliver the reliability and on-time performance that have made them an industry leader,” added Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President and CEO. “We look forward to working closely with ILS, Khrunichev and Space Systems/Loral on the successful launch of Nimiq 6.”

The launch was the eighth Telesat satellite launched on ILS Proton, the fourth ILS Proton launch in 2012, the 22nd Space Systems/Loral Satellite launched on ILS Proton and the 73rd ILS Proton launch overall.

“With the ILS Proton launch of Nimiq 6, ILS Proton has launched all of the Nimiq series satellites built for Telesat. This is an accomplishment we are very proud of and reflects a level of confidence and trust by Telesat in the performance of the ILS Proton vehicle,” added Mr McKenna after the mission. 

“Our strong relationship with Telesat spans over 12 years and 8 satellites launched to date. We thank the collective mission teams of ILS, Khrunichev, Telesat and Space Systems/Loral for their outstanding work on the Nimiq 6 launch and look forward to the ILS Proton launch of Anik G1 later this year.”

(Images via ILS, Space Systems/Loral and Roscosmos)

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