International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their Proton-M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch was on schedule at 18:31 GMT, with the Proton’s Briz-M (Breeze-M) Upper Stage successfully deploying the EchoStar XVI communications satellite into its desired orbit, after nine hours of flight.
Proton M Launch:
The Proton booster that was used to launch 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 Proton M launch vehicle utilized a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, following lift off from Pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
The first three stages of the Proton used a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the EchoStar XVI 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.
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Separation of the EchoStar XVI satellite was deemed a success approximately 9 hours, 12 minutes after liftoff.
This was ILS’ second mission since the Proton workhorse returned to flight, following the Russian Federal Telkom-3/Express MD-2 mission failure – caused by the Breeze M – that occurred on August 7.
EchoStar XVI will join EchoStar’s fleet of satellites that are used to provide global communication, commerce and entertainment. Operated by EchoStar, EchoStar XVI will be fully leased to DISH for use in its Direct-to-Home (DTH) services in the United States.
An all Ku-band satellite (36 in total) with CONUS and spot beam transponders, EchoStar XVI will utilize SS/L’s flight-proven 1300 spacecraft bus and be located at 61.5 degrees west longitude. It is expected to have a liftime of 15 years on orbit.
Overall, this was the seventh ILS Proton Launch in 2012, the 76th ILS Proton Launch Overall, the fifth EchoStar Satellite Launched on ILS Proton and the 24th Space Systems/Loral Satellite Launched on ILS Proton.
Meanwhile, ILS announces the departure of Frank McKenna as ILS’ president and the appointment of Phil Slack as president of ILS. For the past twelve years, Slack was the vice president and chief financial officer for ILS. Prior to ILS, he held several senior business management positions with Boeing, primarily in their space transportation business from 1988 until joining ILS in 2000.
(Images via ILS and SS/Loral).