_ A Russian Proton-M Rocket launched on time today at 6:17am EST (11:17 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, carrying a Russian and a Israeli Satellite. Both Satellites were successfully delivered to their desired Geostationary Transfer Orbits 9 hours after Launch.
_ The Russian Workorse, both for Government and Commercial Missions, was equipped with a Breeze-M Upper Stage to deliver the Payloads into their desired Orbits. Liftoff was on time and the Rocket blasted off on a cold day in the steppes of Kzakhstan. Launch Vehicle performance was as expected, all three stages worked as advertised. Following third stage separation at 11:26 GMT, the Breeze-M (Briz-M) Upper Stage began its job of delivering the Payloads into their respective orbits. For that, Breeze ignited shortly after the separation from the Launcher for the first in a series of engine burns. This 4-minute burn was executed normally and the stack went into a coast phase for 52 Minutes before the second burn commenced. The intial parking orbit was circular and 173km in altitude. The second burn had a duration of about 18 minutes and placed the vehicle in a highly elliptical orbit of 4998 by 262 kilometers. At a point 3 and a half hours into the mission, the third Briz Burn began. It was nearly 19 Minutes in duration and was performed as expected. After this engine burn, the upper stage dropped its auxiliary tanks the were empty at that point of its flight. The Spacecraft entered a long cruise phase of ~5 hours during which no engine burns were conducted. The fourth burn started at 19:57 GMT and placed the stack in the proper orbit for the Separation of the Luch 5 Satellite. At 20:11, Spacecraft Separation occurred and Luch was released into its desired orbit starting its journey to restore Russian Space based Communications. The Breeze-M also continued its Mission and ignited for the final time during its primary flight. This 5th burn was a short firing of under a minute and placed the vehicle In the correct orbit for Separation of AMOS. The satellite was deployed at 20:52 GMT. With that, the primary Mission of the Breeze Upper Stage was complete, however it still has to make several maneuvers to avoid re-contacting the deployed satellite. These operations will start at 23:12 and conclude at 00:24 GMT (on December 12).
_ The Luch 5 Spacecraft is a data relay satellite for the Russian Space Agency. A System of Luch Satellites can be compared to the US Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System that is used to communicate with Spacecraft in Earth Orbit including ISS and formerly the Space Shuttle. The Russian Luch system is expected to relay ISS communications as well as data to and from other orbiting spacecraft including military satellites. Luch has a Liftoff Mass of about 2,100kg and is 8.5 by 11.0 by 16.0 meters when deployed in orbit. 7 Tansponders are installed on the vehicle that support Ku, S, L and P-Band Communications. The Spacecraft consumes 2,000 watts of power that is provided by solar arrays. Luch 5 will operate for 10 years after it completes a short commissioning phase after today’s Launch. Its geostationary orbit is 36,000 kilometers in altitude.
AMOS 5 has also been built by ISS Reshetnev of Zheleznogorsk, but it will be operated by Israel. The communications satellite has 18 Ku-Band and 16 C-Band transponders and will provide coverage for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It operates at 17° East and is in geostationary orbit. It had a liftoff mass of about 1,000 kilograms. AMOS 4 will be launched in 2012, also by a Proton Rocket.
Today’s Proton Flight marked the 9th Proton Flight of 2011. All Proton Mission have been successful this year, however one Flight was declared a failure because a Breeze-M experienced a malfunction and left the Ekspress-AM4 Satellite stranded in the wrong orbit.