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2004 March 15: A Proton rocket successfully delivered a commercial satellite from Baikonur during the rocket's first mission in 2004. The Proton M vehicle equipped with a Briz-M upper stage blasted off from Pad 24 in Area 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 15, 2004 at 2306 UTC (04:06 local time on March 16), carrying the Eutelsat W3A communications satellite. The Briz-M successfully conducted five burns to place its payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The upper stage and the satellite separated at 11:16 p.m. Moscow time (08:16 UTC) on March 16. When it enters service later this year, the W3A satellite is expected to provide broadband, direct-to-home and other communications services to Eutelsat customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It is an EADS Astrium Eurostar E3000 model satellite, the largest spacecraft launched to date for Eutelsat. The mission was previously expected at the end of 2003.
2004 March 27: A Proton rocket with a Block DM upper stage blasted off from Pad 23 at Site 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 27, 2004, at 06:30 Moscow Time, carrying a classified payload for the Soviet military. According to the Russian space forces, the spacecraft separated from its upper stage at 13:06 Moscow Time, after an apparently successful launch. Following the tradition for military spacecraft, the payload was identified as Cosmos-2406, with no details about its mission officially disclosed. However, several weeks later the spacecraft was renamed Raduga-1 -- a series of communications satellites. According to the Russian press, Lt. General Oleg Gromov, Deputy Commander of Space Forces attended the launch.
2004 April 27: In its third mission in six weeks, the Proton rocket successfully delivered a payload into geostationary orbit. The Proton K vehicle equipped with a Block DM upper stage blasted off from Pad 39 at Site 200 of Baikonur Cosmodrome at 00:37 Moscow Time on April 27, 2004, carrying the Russian communications satellite Ekspress-AM11. According to RKK Energia, the Block D manufacturer, the spacecraft and the upper stage separated at 07:10 Moscow Time on April 27. The satellite successfully reached geostationary orbit.
2004 June 17: The venerable Proton rocket used most of its abilities in June 2004, when it orbited the heaviest European communications payload. After a 24-hour delay, a Proton M vehicle equipped with a Briz-M upper stage blasted off from Pad 39 at Site 200 of Baikonur Cosmodrome at 02:27 Moscow Time on June 17, 2004, carrying the Intelsat 10-02 communications satellite. The launch vehicle successfully injected its payload into geostationary transfer orbit nine hours and 10 minutes after the launch. The separation between the satellite and the upper stage was scheduled for 11:37 Moscow Time. The comsat was to be positioned at 359 degrees East longitude over the Equator to provide video, corporate networking, Internet and voice services across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America and portions of Asia and North America.
According to the company marketing the Proton rocket, the 5,580-kilogram Intelsat 10-02 was the largest Eurostar E3000 model spacecraft ever built by the European consortium EADS Astrium, and the largest commercial satellite carried by a Proton vehicle. The launch of the Intelsat 10-02 onboard Proton was previously expected in the third quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. Technical problems on the launch pad, caused a 24-hour delay from June 16, 2004.
2004 Aug. 5: A Proton rocket with a Briz-M upper stage successfully boosted a commercial communications satellite into orbit. The rocket carrying the Amazonas satellite lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome's Pad 39 at Site 200 at 02:32 Moscow Time on August 5, 2004 (2232 GMT, Aug. 4). According to the Russian Federal Space Agency, FKA, the upper stage and its payload successfully reached an initial parking orbit at 02:51 Moscow Time.
The upper stage then conducted multiple firings culminating with the delivery of the spacecraft into an elliptical transfer orbit 9 hours 11 minutes after launch or at 11:43 Moscow Time. The satellite was expected to use its own propulsion system to reach its operating position of 61 degrees West longitude in a geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Equator.
The Amazonas spacecraft was built for Hispasat of Spain, and will be used by its subsidiaries Hispamar of Brazil and Hispasat Canarias to provide a multitude of communications services at both C- and Ku-bands on both sides of the Atlantic. The spacecraft is the biggest of the Hispasat fleet covering Brazil and the rest of the Americas, Europe and Northern Africa with transatlantic and Pan-American capacity. The satellite carries 32 active transponders in the Ku-band and 19 active transponders in the C-band. Built by EADS Astrium of Europe, the spacecraft is based on the Eurostar 3000 platform with a planned operational life of 15 years and a total launch mass of approximately 4,600 kg. The contract for the launch of Amazonas onboard Proton was originally announced on Sept. 9, 2003 and the mission was previously scheduled for July 26, 2004.
2004 Oct. 15: A Proton rocket with a Briz-M upper stage delivered the AMC-15 communications satellite for SES AMERICOM after a successful launch from Site 200 in Baikonur at 01:23:00 Moscow Time (5:23 pm EDT on Oct. 14). Initial contact with the satellite was confirmed at 2:52 a.m. EDT from the Lockheed Martin satellite tracking station in Uralla, Australia.
The spacecraft uses a A2100 bus built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS), with a Ku/Ka-band payload for distribution of video, Internet and broadband services across the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii. AMC-15 features one of Americas first payloads operating at Ka-band frequencies, comprising 12 125-MHz Ka-band spot beams. AMC-15 also features 24 36-MHz transponders of Ku-band capacity. SES AMERICOM has an agreement with EchoStar Communications, Inc., a leading U.S. direct broadcast system operator, to use both payloads on the AMC-15. International Launch Services, ILS, -- a company marketing the Proton in the West -- announced the agreement to launch the AMC-15 on Sept. 8, 2003. Earlier that year, SES AMERICOM ordered an unspecified Proton launch from the ILS. The launch was originally expected in August 2004. It was delayed from Sept. 21, 2004 by avionics problems in the Briz-M upper stage.
AMC-15 represents the third of four satellites Lockheed Martin will deliver this year to SES AMERICOM. AMC-10 and AMC-11 were successfully launched on Atlas IIAS vehicles in February and May 2004, and AMC-16 is scheduled to be launched on an Atlas V in December 2004. AMC-15 marks the 11th A2100 delivered to SES AMERICOM since the maiden flight of AMC-1 in September 1996. It also represents the 25th A2100 in orbit.
2004 Oct. 30: A Russian Proton rocket successfully delivered a spacecraft for the nations satellite communications company, RSCC. The Proton K rocket with a Block DM-01 upper stage blasted from Pad 39 at Site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 02:11 Moscow Time, on October 30, 2004, carrying the Ekspress-AM1 satellite. After two firings of the upper stage, the payload successfully reached its final geostationary orbit at 08:45 Moscow Time on the same day. The satellite is to be positioned at 40 degrees East over the Equator.
This was the third of five satellites in the series slated for launch before the end of 2005. The spacecraft was developed by NPO PM of Zheleznogorsk in cooperation with NEC NTS Space of Japan, Sodern of France and the European consortium Astrium. Its payload, including nine C-band, 18 Ku-band and one L-band transponders, is designed to provide digital TV broadcasts, telephone communications and broad-band Internet access. The spacecraft has a projected lifespan of 12 years. The launch of the Express-AM1 was delayed from August 2004 and Oct. 28, 2004.
2004 Dec. 26: Russia sent up a trio of satellites to upgrade the nation's global positioning system. A Proton-K rocket with a Block DM (11S861) upper stage, carrying two Uragan and a follow-on Uragan-M satellites blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 16:54 Moscow Time. The launch had previously been scheduled for Dec. 25, 2004.
Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: February 9, 2011
Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: February 9, 2011
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Proton rocket lifts off with Amazonas satellite on Aug. 5, 2004. Credit: ILS