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.
Investigators probing the sudden failure of the Boeing-built Intelsat 29e geostationary relay station in April have concluded an electrostatic discharge, aggravated by a harness flaw on the spacecraft, or a micrometeoroid strike prematurely ended the satellite’s mission, resulting in a $382 million hit to Intelsat’s quarterly financial report.