Proton rocket blasts off with Russian Express A1R satellite
BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: June 10, 2002 @ 0115 GMT
Updated: 1255 GMT
The Khrunichev Proton rocket launched at 0114 GMT (9:14 p.m. EDT Sunday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in the Kazakhstan desert. The Express A1R spacecraft took a multi-hour ride to its intended high orbit, deploying from the Energia-built Block DM upper stage at 0758 GMT (3:58 a.m. EDT), officials said.
The satellite takes the place of Express A1, which was destroyed minutes after liftoff in October 1999 when the Proton rocket launching it suffered an engine malfunction due to poor workmanship.
Express A1R becomes the third and last of the next-generation Express A series to reach orbit, after two successful launches in 2000. A third-generation Express AM is now in the works, the Russian Satellite Communications Company said in a statement.
The Express A1R spacecraft will guide itself into a circular geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. There it will appear to hover above a point on the equator at 40 degrees East longitude, or over eastern Africa.
The craft's 12 C-band and five Ku-band transponders will handle television and radio broadcasting services, as well as mobile telephony, data transmission, video conferencing and high-speed Internet.
The 5,700-pound satellite will operate in orbit for at least 7 years.
Officials say that the Express A fleet represents an effort to renovate Russia's aging communications satellite system that can no longer handle the communications traffic in Russia and surrounding regions.
The Russian Satellite Communications Company and the Intersputnik organization will both use parts of Express A1R's capacity and capabilities, splitting the satellite's services between the Russian government and the commercial market.
The next scheduled Proton launch is targeted for on June 22 when the Echostar 8 direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite will be lofted into orbit. The mission will be carried out by International Launch Services, the joint American-Russian venture that globally markets Atlas and Proton rockets.
After that, the next mission for ILS is the inaugural flight of the Atlas 5 rocket, currently slated for July 29 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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