International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their Proton-M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, with lift off occurring at 16:02 GMT. The Proton’s Briz-M (Breeze-M) Upper Stage successfully carried out its multi-hour mission to deploy the EUTELSAT 3D telecommunications satellite into its desired transfer orbit.
Proton M Launch:
The Proton booster that was used to launch the satellite is 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 Briz-M (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 utilized a 5-burn Breeze M mission design. The first three stages of the Proton used the standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the EUTELSAT 3D 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 geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Separation of the EUTELSAT 3D satellite occurred approximately 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff.
EUTELSAT 3D will bring resources, reach and flexibility for high-growth professional video, data, telecom and broadband services at 3 degrees east, an orbital position that sits at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia.
“The Proton vehicle and Eutelsat partnership dates back 13 years starting with the SESAT-1 launch on Proton in 2000,” noted ILS President Phil Slack.
“After seven launches, including the 50th ILS Proton launch in 2009 with the EUTELSAT 10A satellite, we are honored that Eutelsat continues to place their trust in us to enable the expansion of their business. Many thanks to the Eutelsat, Thales Alenia Space, Khrunichev and ILS teams for ensuring mission success with the launch of EUTELSAT 3D.”
Through a configuration of Ku and Ka transponders connected to three footprints, Eutelsat’s new satellite will serve customers in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. A fourth footprint in the Ku-band will serve customers in sub-Saharan Africa.
EUTELSAT 3D will be located at 3 degrees east until the launch in 2014 of EUTELSAT 3B that will further extend coverage to South America. It will subsequently continue service at 7 degrees east.
The satellite’s Spacebus 4000 Platform sports 56 Ku and Ka-band transponders and has a mass of 5,470 kg. It has an anticipated service life of 15 years.
“We thank ILS and Khrunichev for this flawless launch which maintains our perfect track record of success since our first Proton flight in 2000,” added Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO.
“I’m happy to say that EUTELSAT 3D is well on its way to 3 degrees East, where it will go into service next month. The performance of the Proton launcher gives us the flexibility we need to further increase our resources and commercial flexibility which is highly valued in our business.”
This was the third ILS Proton launch in 2013 and the 80th ILS Proton launch overall. This mission will also mark the seventh Eutelsat Satellite to be launched on Proton, the ninth for Thales Alenia Space Satellite.
(Images via ILS).