ILS Proton-M successfully launches Amazonas 5

by Chris Bergin

International Launch Services (ILS) launched its Proton-M launch vehicle with the Amazonas 5 satellite on Monday. The Russian workhorse – along with its Breeze-M upper stage partner – launched from the 200/39 site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 19:23 UTC on a launch profile that lasted over nine hours before the spacecraft was deployed.

ILS Proton-M Launch:

The Proton vehicle – which has a rich heritage of over 400 launches since 1965 – conducted its second ILS mission since its latest stand down.

June’s successful launch with EchoStar XXI came after a one year wait when an underperformance was noted with the 2016 mission with the Intelsat-31 launch.

The rocket 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 rocket was the brain child of lead designer was Vladimir Chelomei, who designed it with the intention of creating both a powerful rocket for military payloads and a high-performance ICBM. The program was changed, and the rocket was developed exclusively for launching spacecraft.

It was first named the UR-500, but adopted the name “Proton”, which also was the name of the first three payloads launched.

Proton has launched Russian interplanetary missions to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and Halley’s Comet. Proton also launched the Salyut space stations, the Mir core segment and both the Zarya (Dawn) and Zvezda (Star) modules for today’s International Space Station.

It began commercial launches in 1996.

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 powered by one pump-fed gimbaled main engine that develops thrust of 20 kN (4,500 lbf). It is composed of a central core and an auxiliary propellant tank which is jettisoned in flight following depletion.

The Breeze M control system includes an on-board computer, a three-axis gyro stabilized platform, and a navigation system. The quantity of propellant carried is dependent on specific mission requirements and is varied to maximize mission performance.

The latest mission with the Proton M utilized a 5-burn Breeze M mission design. The first three stages of the Proton used a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.

This mission utilized the standard PLF-BR-15255 commercial payload fairing which is 4.1 meters in diameter and 15.255 meters in length. The PLF encapsulates the AMAZONAS 5 satellite along with the Breeze M upper stage to provide protection from the dense atmosphere for the first 5 minutes and 47 seconds after launch.

From this point in the mission, the Breeze M performed planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a nearly circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Separation of the satellite occurred approximately 9 hours, 12 minutes after liftoff.

Amazonas 5 is the third satellite that SSL has provided to Hispasat and the company is also building Hispasat 30W-6, which is expected to launch in the coming months. SSL built Amazonas 3, Latin America’s first satellite with a high throughput payload for broadband internet, and Hispasat 30W-5, which was launched in 2010.

The satellite has 34 Ka-band spot beams and 24 Ku-band transponders, which will be used for broadband internet services, television, corporate networks, and other telecommunications applications in Brazil and Latin America.

Based on the SSL 1300 platform, the satellite will be located at 61°W longitude and is designed to provide service for 15 years or more.

“HISPASAT and SSL have a collaborative relationship and have worked together since 2007 to develop advanced spacecraft capability,” said Paul Estey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of SSL.

“With Amazonas 5, we are pleased to help Hispasat broaden its high quality offerings in Latin America and we look forward to its successful launch.”

The launch of Amazonas 5 was the 95th ILS Proton mission and the 30th with a Space Systems Loral (SSL) satellite. It was also the 415th Proton mission overall since its maiden flight in 1965.

(Images via ILS, SSL and Roscosmos).

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