Proton Returns to Flight with Satellite Launch

Proton LaunchCredit:  RIA Novosti

Proton Launch
Credit: RIA Novosti

Source: RIA Novosti, Russianspaceweb

A Russian built Proton rocket successfully lifted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. Operated by International Launch Services, the booster blasted off shortly before midnight at 23:06 Moscow time, (7:06 pm GMT) and placed the Space Systems/Loral SatMex-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit with 5 burns of the Briz-M upperstage.

The flight was the first for Proton since a December 8, 2012 effort which saw the Gazprom-402 satellite placed in a lower than intended orbit by a malfunctioning Briz upper stage. Four launches prior to the December incident, another Proton failed on August 6, 2012 when the Briz-M upper stage failed  7 seconds into an 18 minute burn, placing two satellite communications satellites into a useless orbit.

In a related note, Russia recently signed an agreement with the European Space Agency to provide launch services aboard the Proton for the two-part ExoMars mission to the Red Planet in 2016 and 2018. Russia stepped in to rescue the mission after NASA subtantially withdrew from the program in part due to the high costs of the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V boosters which the agency had previously been planning to provide.

Posted in: Russian Space

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