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The Mission

Rocket: Proton M with Breeze M upper stage
Payload: MEASAT 3
Date: December 11, 2006
Time: 2328 GMT (6:28 p.m. EST)
Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Satellite feed: Intelsat Americas 6, Transponder 9, C-band, 93° West

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Proton launches into the night with Malaysian craft

Posted: December 12, 2006

Asia's newest communications satellite blasted off from frigid Kazakhstan Monday to begin a 15-year mission to beam a variety of services directly to homes and offices across the world's most populous continent.

The Proton rocket ignites to launch MEASAT 3. Credit: ILS
The starting point for the craft's 9-hour ride into orbit was pad 39 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Liftoff of the Proton rocket from the snow-covered space center came at 2328 GMT (6:28 p.m. EST) Monday, or in the predawn hours Tuesday morning at Baikonur.

Reports during the launch broadcast indicated temperatures at Baikonur were around 5 degrees Fahrenheit at launch time.

The Proton's three core stages completed their role in the mission during the first 10 minutes after launch, and the rocket's Breeze M upper stage fired for more than eight minutes to place the MEASAT 3 satellite in a temporary circular orbit about 107 miles high.

Four more firings of the Breeze M upper stage ultimately placed MEASAT 3 in the appropriate geostationary transfer orbit, which was targeted to stretch from a low point of 4,573 miles to a high point of 22,236 miles, with an inclination of 16.5 degrees. The 10,505-pound satellite was deployed from the upper stage at about 0840 GMT (3:40 a.m. EST).

"This is the first satellite to be launched for MEASAT in a decade, and we're pleased that ILS and Proton have played a part in this important event," said International Launch Services President Frank McKenna.

"We're proud of the accuracy with which Proton delivered the satellite to orbit. Today's successful performance validates MEASAT's confidence in our vehicle, and we hope to convert this confidence into additional opportunities to work with MEASAT."

Owned by MEASAT Satellite Systems, the craft will join the company's other two operational satellites in providing expanded communications coverage to the more than 70 percent of the world's population, according to MEASAT's Web site.

MEASAT 3 will be permanently positioned in geostationary orbit along the Equator at 91.5 degrees East longitude above the northeastern Indian Ocean, where it will be co-located with MEASAT 1, which was launched in 1996 and has a design life of 12 years.

The satellite features an array of communications equipment, including 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders. The C-band payload can reach customers across Asia, Australia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East in more than 100 nations.

MEASAT 3's Ku-band transponders will focus on delivering direct-to-home video and Internet services to Malaysia, Indonesia and India, said Ali Ebadi, vice president of engineering and operations for MEASAT.

Based in Malaysia, MEASAT Satellite Systems has two more new satellites under construction and planning.

MEASAT 3 was built by Boeing Satellite Systems International and is designed for a lifetime of about 15 years.

Control of the craft should be officially handed over to MEASAT by early February, according to Jack Strand, Boeing's mission manager for the satellite.

"We are very pleased with the successful launch of MEASAT 3," said Paul Brown-Kenyon, chief operating officer of MEASAT. "The satellite, which is central to the expansion of our DTH and broadcast distribution business, is expected to begin operations by 1 February 2007. We extend our heartfelt thanks to ILS, and their Russian partners, for a professionally executed launch campaign."

The launch was the last planned commercial flight of the year for the Proton rocket under the auspices of International Launch Services, which markets the Russian booster to customers around the globe.

ILS oversaw four commercial Proton launches in 2006, and the next year begins with the launch of the Canadian Anik F3 satellite.

One more government flight of the Proton rocket is planned this year. Three Glonass navigation satellites are scheduled for launch on Dec. 25.