ILS Proton-M launches with SES-5 satellite

by Chris Bergin

International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their Proton-M rocket on Monday. Lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was on schedule at 18:38 GMT, with the Proton’s Briz-M Upper Stage then tasked with deploying the large telecommunications satellite into its desired orbit, which was successfully completed 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.

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 launch was postponed from December due to a problem with the upper stage, and again in June after Khrunichev engineers at the launch site received an out of tolerance telemetry reading on a first stage subsystem during pre-flight testing.

The June delay was initially hoped to be for just one day. However, based on additional pre-flight testing performed, it was determined that further investigation is necessary, requiring the launch vehicle be returned to the processing hall for additional testing.

The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, lifted off from Pad 24 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, with the SES-5 satellite on board. The first three stages of the Proton used a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the SES-5 satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.

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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 SES-5 satellite was conducted approximately 9 hours, 12 minutes after liftoff.

SES’ high-powered Ku-band beams will bring incremental capacity over Africa, and the Nordic and Baltic countries to support DTH services. Its comprehensive C-band beams cover Africa, the Middle East and Europe to enable services such as GSM backhaul, VSAT applications, maritime communications and video distribution.

Built by Space Systems/Loral, the 6,007 kg bird sports 24 C-band transponders and 36 Ku-band transponders. It is expected to have a service life of 15 years in its orbital slot of five degrees East.

SES-5 will also carry the first hosted L-band payload for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). The EGNOS payload, which was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC), will help verify, improve, and report on the reliability and accuracy of navigation positioning signals in Europe.

This latest SES mission follows the successful launch of SES-4 in February. which is now located in its GEO slow at 330 degrees East.

“It is always thrilling to achieve milestones in our business but even more so when it is with a longtime customer, such as SES,” noted ILS president Frank McKenna after the launch of SES-4.

“With the ILS Proton launch of SES-4 this marks our 20th SES satellite launched on ILS Proton and the 50th satellite in the SES fleet. We are honored to be entrusted with launching the powerful SES-4 satellite and look forward to performing on all of our upcoming ILS Proton missions for SES,”

Following this latest SES mission, ILS will then be tasked with launching SES-6 in 2013.  Weighing about 6 metric tons at launch, this satellite is being built on Astrium’s Eurostar 3000 platform and is expected to carry 43 C-band and 43 Ku-band transponders to serve SES’ existing cable-television customers and provide capacity for growth.

SES-6 will replace NSS-806 at the orbital location of 319.5 degrees East, and will provide enhanced coverage in North, Central and South America and will further support applications like HD, DTH, enterprise networks and digital inclusion projects in the Latin America region serving over 18 million households.

“The SES-6 satellite is significant for Latin America and the Caribbean as there is rapid growth in these areas and we expect this trend to continue,” noted Romain Bausch, president and CEO of SES.

“At the same time, this launch will allow us to provide an early replacement and a meaningful upgrade to our Americas coverage. We have a long history with ILS and have developed an outstanding partnership over 15 years of doing business together. We look forward to working with the ILS and Khrunichev teams on the launch of SES-6 mission and our future launches on ILS Proton.”

(Images via ILS and SES).

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