A Russian Proton rocket lifted off Thursday with a U.S.-built communications satellite to broadcast television over Latin America, firing into orbit from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Proton rocket and its Breeze M upper stage lifted off at 0710 GMT (3:10 a.m. EDT; 1:10 p.m. Baikonur time), turned northeast over the Kazakh steppe, and reached orbit about 15 minutes later.
The 191-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket’s payload is the Intelsat 31/DLA-2 communications satellite, a 7-ton broadcasting station owned by Intelsat and leased by DirecTV Latin America to beam direct-to-home television signals to homes and businesses across Central and South America.
The hydrazine-fueled rocket and its Breeze M upper stage were programmed to put the Intelsat 31/DLA-2 spacecraft, made by Space Systems/Loral in California, into a “supersynchronous” transfer orbit more than 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) above Earth.
The spacecraft has its own engine to circularize its orbit in the coming weeks at an altitude of more than 22,000 miles (35,700 kilometers) over the equator, beginning a 15-year service life.
Managed by International Launch Services and Khrunichev, the Proton’s sales firm and builder, Thursday’s launch was the 412th flight of a Proton rocket since it debuted in 1965, and the heavy-lifter’s third mission this year.
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