Spaceflight Now: Breaking News


February 12, 2000 -- Follow the launch of the Garuda 1 communications satellite aboard a Russian Proton rocket. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

1905 GMT (2:05 p.m. EST)

SUCCESS. The Russian-built Proton rocket is back in business. International Launch Services has just announced today's Proton rocket flight successfully placed the ACeS Garuda 1 communications satellite into the proper orbit. This is the first Proton launch since a failed mission last October.

A dozen Proton launches are planned in 2000 with seven commercial missions making up the manifest. A highlight certainly will be the planned July launch of the Zvezda service module, the next piece of the $60 billion International Space Station. Zvezda will service as the initial crew living quarters for the station while using its thrusters to keep the outpost at a safe altitude.

Garuda 1 will complete a series of upcoming rocket firings using its onboard propulsion system. The maneuvers will boost the satellite from its current elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit to a circular geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth, parking itself at 123 degrees East longitude over the equator.

Following a series of tests and checks, deployment of the solar arrays and two massive mesh reflectors, the craft will be ready for service in April to relay cellular telephone and data transmissions. It will become the first-of-its-kind satellite to serve the Asian region.

A second Garuda satellite is being built to expand coverage over western and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and northern Africa.

Each Garuda satellite will provide at least 11,000 simultaneous telephone channels and be capable of supporting up to 2 million subscribers, ACeS says.

"When completed, the ACeS constellation will instantaneously provide the communications infrastructure required to serve more than half of the world's population," said Peter Kujawski, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, which built Garuda 1. "Given the size and topography of Asia, satellite-based telecommunications service is the best way to serve this market. We're extremely pleased to be part of the ACeS team."

ACeS International is jointly owned by PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN) of Indonesia, Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications (LMGT) of Bethesda, Md., USA, the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) and Jasmine International Public Company Ltd. of Thailand.

1720 GMT (12:20 p.m. EST)

Deployment of the Garuda 1 spacecraft should have occurred about 90 minutes ago. However, we are still awaiting confirmation from International Launch Services. We will update this page as soon as an official announcement is made.

0930:54 GMT (4:30:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 20 minutes. The Block DM and attached Garuda 1 spacecraft are in a parking orbit around Earth. The duo will coast for the next 53 minutes before the second firing of Block DM is planned to raise the current orbit to geosynchronous altitude. A five hour coast will then occur until the vehicle reaches the high point of that transfer orbit and fires again to raise the orbit's low point and decrease the inclination.

We do not expect any additional information from International Launch Services regarding status of the flight until after spacecraft separation expected at about T+6 hours, 40 minutes. We will update next once further information becomes available.

0928:34 GMT (4:28:34 a.m. EST)

T+plus 18 minutes, 40 seconds. The first of three planned firings of the Block DM upper stage to place the Garuda 1 satellite into the proper orbit today has been completed, officials just confirmed.

0925:54 GMT (4:25:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 15 minutes. Standing by for first ignition of the Block DM upper stage in about 45 seconds. This burn will last approximately 69 seconds.

0922:54 GMT (4:22:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 12 minutes. The Block DM and Garuda 1 are currently in a coast period of before the upper stage will fire to achieve a parking orbit around Earth. Ignition is less than four minutes away.

0921:04 GMT (4:21:04 a.m. EST)

T+plus 10 minutes, 10 seconds. Third stage engine shutdown and stage separation has been announced. The Block DM upper stage and attached Garuda 1 spacecraft are now free of the Proton rocket's core vehicle.

0919:54 GMT (4:19:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 9 minutes. Less than a minute left in the third stage burn.

0918:54 GMT (4:18:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 8 minutes. Combustion chamber pressure is normal. Vehicle orientation is proper. Downrange distance is 1,250 km

0917:24 GMT (4:17:24 a.m. EST)

T+plus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The single RD-0210 engine on the third stage is operating normally. Payload fairing separation has been confirmed.

0916:54 GMT (4:16:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 6 minutes. Second stage has completed its job and separation is confirmed! The second stages were blamed for last year's two failures. The third stage has ignited.

0915:54 GMT (4:15:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 5 minutes. Altitude 108 km, downrange distance 431 km. The Proton remains stable.

0914:54 GMT (4:14:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 4 minutes. The second stage's four RD-0210 engines continue to fire. Vehicle performance has been normal so far in today's launch.

0913:24 GMT (4:13:24 a.m. EST)

T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The second stage has ignited and first stage separation confirmed.

0912:24 GMT (4:12:24 a.m. EST)

T+plus 1 minute, 30 seconds. Altitude is 26.6 km, downrange distance 23 km.

0911:54 GMT (4:11:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 1 minute. Vehicle continues to accelerate into a clear blue sky. Parameters reported nominal.

0911:24 GMT (4:11:24 a.m. EST)

T+plus 30 seconds. First stage engines performing as expected.

0910:54 GMT (4:10:54 a.m. EST)

LIFTOFF! The Proton rocket returns to flight with the Garuda 1 cellular telephone relay satellite.

0909:54 GMT (4:09:54 a.m. EST)

T-minus 1 minute. The engine start command will be issued by the launch sequencer at T-minus 2.5 seconds. The six first stage engines will be ignited at T-minus 1.6 seconds.

0907:54 GMT (4:07:54 a.m. EST)

T-minus 3 minutes and counting. All systems remain go.

0902 GMT (4:02 a.m. EST)

The Garuda 1 spacecraft has been verified ready for launch.

0900:54 GMT (4:00:54 a.m. EST)

Only ten minutes remain in the countdown to launch. There are no problems being worked and weather is near-perfect for launch, officials report.

The Proton rocket's first three stages that make up the core vehicle will complete their mission in the first 9 minutes, 48 seconds of the launch. At that point, the third stage will separate from the Block DM upper stage and attached Garuda 1 spacecraft. The Block DM will perform a suborbital firing today to deliver the stage and satellite into a 124-nautical mile high parking orbit around Earth. Two later burns -- one at T+plus 73 minutes and the other at T+6 hours, 17 minutes -- will inject the Garuda 1 payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separation of Garuda 1 from the Block DM to complete the launch will occur 6 hours, 39 minutes, 51 seconds after launch. The satellite's onboard propulsion system will later raise and circularize its orbit at geostationary altitude 22,300 miles above Earth.

0850:54 GMT (3:50:54 a.m. EST)

Now 20 minutes away from the planned launch time.

The Garuda 1 satellite being launched today is the first spacecraft in ACeS constellation. It will be parked at 123 degrees East longitude in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth's equator later this month. Garuda should enter service in April providing voice, facsimile, data and Internet services through hand-held mobile and fixed terminals throughout Asia. The Lockheed Martin-built satellite has the capability for 10,000 simultaneous telephone channels operating in C-band and L-band frequencies. The designed service life is 15 years or more.

0835 GMT (3:35 a.m. EST)

The Proton rocket and its Block DM upper stage with the Garuda 1 spacecraft are undergoing final preparations for today's launch. No significant technical problems have been reported. In the past few minutes, the rocket's guidance computer was loaded with its final updates and the auto-sequencer was started to control the countdown to launch.

0831 GMT (3:31 a.m. EST)

The launch team at Baikonur Cosmodrome's Complex 81 report all activities remain on schedule for today's liftoff. Weather conditions look good for launch.

0826 GMT (3:26 a.m. EST)

Officials will have just 12 seconds to launch the Proton rocket today beginning at 0910:54 GMT due to mission requirements. We are standing by to get a countdown status update from International Launch Services shortly.

0814 GMT (3:14 a.m. EST)

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Proton rocket's return to flight. Live video is being received from the Baikonur Cosmodrome where it is currently 11:14 a.m. local time. The launch is now just under one hour away at 0910:54 GMT.

0300 GMT (10:00 p.m. EST)

There is a lot riding on today's planned launch of a Russian Proton rocket. It will be the return-to-flight for Proton since a failure last October. In addition, the very sophisticated communications satellite being carried into space today is valued at around $500 million, according to news reports. NASA also will watch the launch closely because the next segment of the International Space Station will be delivered into space atop a Proton in July.

Russian rocket maker Khrunichev and its engine manufacturer Voronezh Mechanical Plant has spent the last 3 1/2 months determining why two Proton rockets suffered nearly identical failures last year. On July 5 and October 27, the second stages of Proton boosters malfunctioned, sending the rockets crashing back to Earth.

Investigators concluded poor workmanship during the construction of second stage engines more than six years ago doomed the rockets. Debris and foreign materials were left in the engines, causing the powerplants to explode during launch.

Russian officials have developed plans to prevent similar engine problems in the future including better quality control processes during manufacturing and special examinations of all flight motors. Design changes will be incorporated into new engines when they are built starting later this year.

The passenger for today's launch is the Garuda-1 spacecraft for Asia Cellular Satellite (ACeS). Built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, the Garuda-1 satellite will provide voice, facsimile and pager services through hand-held mobile and fixed terminals to Western and Central Asia, Eastern Europe and parts of Northern Africa.

There will be a 12-second launch window to get the Proton off the ground today starting at 0910:54 GMT (4:10:54 a.m. EST). Liftoff will occur from pad 23 at Baikonur Cosmodrome's Launch Complex 81 in Kazakhstan.

The mission will be managed by International Launch Services. ILS is a consortium between the U.S. Lockheed Martin and Russian Khrunichev and Energia aerospace firms that globally markets Proton and Atlas rockets.

"We are satisfied that the work completed by the Khrunichev and ILS teams will allow for the successful return-to-flight of Proton," said Adi Adiwoso, CEO and President of ACeS International. "We are excited that the ACeS/Garuda-1 commercial mission will mark the first launch on Proton since last October."

Flight data file
Vehicle: Proton
Payload: Garuda 1
Launch date: Feb. 12, 2000
Launch window: 0910:54-0911:06 (4:10-4:11 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Video vault
The International Launch Services Proton rocket lifts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Saturday carrying the Garuda 1 satellite.
  PLAY (290k, 33sec QuickTime file).
Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.

Pre-launch Briefing
Launch timeline - Chart with times of the events to occur during launch.

Ascent profile - Description of the launch process from liftoff through deployment of Garuda 1.

The Garuda 1 satellite - Overview of the ACeS communications spacecraft.

Explore the Net
International Launch Services - Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev and Energia consortium which globally markets the Russian Proton and U.S. Atlas rockets.

Asia Cellular Satellite - Will operate Garuda 1 as part of Global Mobile Personal Communications Services based in Indonesia.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems - U.S. manufacturer of Garuda 1.

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