Proton returns with first flight after 12-month break

International Launch Services managed to return with their Proton rocket after problems with their launch vehicle, which caused 12-month break in ILS flight schedule.

Success of today's mission helped in rebuilding positive view of ILS which operates Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Proton which suffered for serious malfunction of the second stage during Intelsat-31 mission on 9th June 2016, showed today its capabilities in delivering heavy payload to orbit. Echostar-21 communications satellite was delivered successfully to GTO orbit and this mission clearly shows, that Proton rocket is still in game in spite of fact that first plans of this rocket were created in the mid sixties of XX century.

Launch was planned for 03:45 UTC today from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rocket started its six RD-276 engines fueled with N2O4/UDMH punctually and rocket begun to rise over the launch pad. At T+70 seconds rocket powered by engines providing total thrust of 10.47 MN with 6.9 t satellite under the payload fairing reached speed of 1 Ma. At T+2'30" rocket cut off its first stage and perform separation. Second stage ignited its RD-0210 and RD-0211 engines which fueled by N2O4/UDMH provided 2.399 MN of thrust.  At T+7' Proton separated third and second stage and jettisoned payload fairing. Third stage ignited its RD-0212 which started to generate 630 kN of thrust burning N2O4/UDMH. It was operating for six minutes to cut off at T+13' and deploy Breeze-M upper stage on 167 km orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees. Breeze-M performed first burn lasting for 5 minutes. S5-98M engine was working nominally burning N2O4/UDMH and providing 19.6 kN of thrust. Next burn was performed at 05:05 UTC and lasted for 18 minutes. Fourth burn was planned for T+3h40'and lasted 7 minutes. It put Breeze-M with Echostar-21 to orbit with following parameters: 435 km x 35805 km, inclined 49.1 degrees. Last burn started at T+8h52' and helped to reduce inclination; it lasted for 4'26" and placed Breeze-M at 2300 km x 35786 km orbit 30.5 degree inclined). Satellite was deployed at 12:58 UTC.

During following weeks satellite will perform series of the maneuvers to reach GEO orbit and will begin its 15 years mission. Echostar-21 will cover with its range Europe and provide telecommunication services. Satellite built on SSL-1300S bus by Space Systems/Loral weighs and is powered by two deployable solar arrays. main payload are S band transponder operating on 2 Ghz frequency.

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