A Proton booster rocketed away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazaskhtan Wednesday with a Eutelsat television broadcasting craft and the satellite industry’s first commercial in-space servicing vehicle. The successful launch marked the first commercial Proton mission under the auspices of International Launch Services in more than two years.
A Russian Proton rocket lifted off at 1017 GMT (6:17 a.m. EDT) Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodorme in Kazakhstan. After a marathon 16-hour-long launch sequence, the Proton and its Breeze M upper stage will deploy the Eutelsat 5 West B video broadcast satellite and a robotic satellite servicing payload aiming to attempt the first-ever docking in geosynchronous orbit.
Joe Anderson, vice president of business development and operations at Space Logistics LLC, recently discussed the company’s first Mission Extension Vehicle in an interview with Spaceflight Now. The first Mission Extension Vehicle is launching on the first commercial satellite servicing mission to dock with an Intelsat communications craft in geostationary orbit.
A Blagovest communications spacecraft lifted off Monday aboard a Proton rocket to complete a network of four relay satellites in geostationary orbit for the Russian military. The Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage successfully delivered the Blagovest spacecraft to its intended orbit nine hours later.
International Launch Services, facing headwinds in a commercial launch market now largely shaped by billionaires and satellite miniaturization, has touted a new relationship with the Russian space agency and Glavkosmos as a means to drive down Proton rocket prices, make Russian space industry more friendly to the commercial market, and diversify its offerings.
A Russian military communications satellite launched Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, riding a Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage into orbit on just the second Proton flight this year, the lowest annual flight rate for Russia’s most powerful operational launcher since the 1960s.