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2010 Jan. 28: Russia conducted its first space mission of 2010, launching a military communications satellite. A Proton M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage lifted off from Site 81 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome, on January 28, 2009, at 03:18 Moscow Time, carrying a Raduga-1M/Globus-1M military communications satellite. Western radar detected an apparent Briz M/Raduga stack in an elliptical transfer orbit with an altitude of 409 by 35,671 kilometers and an inclination of 46.48 degreees toward the Equator. According to official Russian media, the satellite successfully reached its intended orbit, with separation from the upper stage occurring at 12:19 Moscow Time on January 28.
2010 Feb. 12: In its second mission in just two weeks, Russia's workhorse rocket carried a communications satellite into orbit. A Proton-M/Briz-M rocket with the Intelsat 16 spacecraft lifted off from Pad 39 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Feb. 12, 2010, at 03:39 Moscow Time. The upper stage and its payload successfully reached an initial parking orbit 10 minutes later. Separation of the Intelsat 16 satellite occurred approximately nine hours, 34 minutes after liftoff, (around 13:14 Moscow Time on February 12) in a 37,678-kilometer circular orbit, successfully completing the mission, the International Launch Service, ILS, said. The spacecraft would use its own propulsion system to enter its final orbit.
With a projected life span of 16 years, the 2,056.6-kilogram Intelsat 16 satellite (IS-16) was to be located at 58 degrees West longitude. The spacecraft is based on the Star 2.4 platform built be Orbital Sciences Corporation, Sterling, Va., for Intelsat of Luxembourg. The high-power Ku-band payload featuring 24 transponders was designed to provide expansion capacity for SKY Mexico offering High Definition (HD) services and delivering news, sports and entertainment programming to its direct-to-home viewers. In addition, IS-16 would be available to provide backup capacity for SKY Brazil.
This mission was originally scheduled onboard Zenit-3SLB in the second half of 2009. It was then delayed to the first quarter of 2010, before being switched to Proton, in the wake of the bankruptcy of the Sea Launch venture operating the Zenit-3 rockets. The launch was originally planned as early as fourth quarter of 2009. It was later expected at the end of January 2010.
2010 March 2: Russia launched another trio of satellites to replenish its domestically built satellite navigation network. A Proton M rocket with a Block DM-2 upper stage lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 81 on March 2, 2010, at 00:19 Moscow Time. It carried three Uragan-M satellites, less than three months after a previous batch of spacecraft for the GLONASS constellation had been delivered into orbit. It was also the third launch of the heavy-lifting Proton rocket since the beginning of 2010. According to Russian space officials, the upper stage with the payload successfully separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle and reached its initial orbit.
2010 March 20: Russia successfully delivered a commercial communications satellite for the US-based company. A Proton rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 20, 2010, at 21:27 Moscow Time, carrying the Echostar 14 satellite. The 6,300-kilogram spacecraft became the heaviest payload for the launch vehicle to date. According to the rocket manufacturer, all phases of the launch went flawlessly and the satellite separated from the Briz-M upper stage as scheduled. It was the fourth mission of the Russian workhorse rocket in less than three months of 2010. The launch was originally scheduled for early March 2010.
2010 April 24: A Proton rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 24, 2010, at 15:19 Moscow Time carrying the SES 1 communications satellite for SES World Skies of Princeton, N.J. According to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, the Briz-M upper stage and its payload successfully reached their initial parking orbit. The satellite was expected to separate from the upper stage on April 25, 2010, at 00:17 Moscow Time.
The 2,550-kilogram SES-1 was the 26th satellite in the SES WORLD SKIES fleet, which was part of the 42 spacecraft constellation of parent company SES. The satellite was to replace AMC-2 and AMC-4 at 101 degrees West longitude, delivering communications services to customers in the business, government and media sectors from the center of the North American arc. The satellites powered networks encompassing thousands of VSAT terminals, and delivered high-definition video channels that constituted part of SES WORLD SKIES’ extensive HD-PRIME television neighborhood. SES-1 was the first of a new generation of SES WORLD SKIES satellites bearing the “SES” name, joining the existing line of AMC satellites over North America and the NSS satellites covering the rest of the world.
The satellite was originally known as OS-1 and it was designed to service the US domestic market. The name changed again from AMC-4R to SES-1 for marketing purposes around January 2010). Under a contract announced at the Paris Air Show on June 18, 2007, in 2009-2013 Proton rockets with Briz M upper stages were to launch five SES satellites for SES Satellite Leasing.
According to the agreement, the Proton flights would be available to SES' operating companies: SES AMERICOM, SES ASTRA, SES NEW SKIES and SES SIRIUS. On March 18, 2009, the launch date for OS-1 (later AMC 4R) was announced for early 2010 and was later expected on April 24, 2010.
2010 June 4: Continuing a fast pace of commercial missions, Russia launched a Saudi communications satellite Thursday. A Proton rocket with a Briz M upper stage lifted off from Pad 39 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 4, 2010, at 02:00 Moscow Time. The launch vehicle carried the 5,420-kilogram BADR-5 communications satellite, a.k.a Arabsat-5B, for Arabsat based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The mission was expected to follow a flight profile with five engine firings of the Briz M upper stage. The first three stages of the Proton used a standard ascent profile to place the payload section (Briz M upper stage and the BADR-5 satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory. From that point, the Briz M was to perform planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separation of the BADR-5 satellite was scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff. At the time, the payload was expected to orbit the Earth in a 35,786 by 5,700-kilometer elliptical orbit with an inclination of 19 degrees toward the Equator.
According to the contract for the launches announced in Riyadh, on June 17, 2007, in 2009-2010 a Proton-M was to launch a fifth-generation satellite for Arabsat -- either Arabsat-5A or BADR-5 (Arabsat-5B). (Arabsat-5A was eventually assigned to Ariane-5.) A consortium of EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space built the satellites and was responsible for delivering them into orbit. EADS Astrium was to supply the Eurostar E3000 platforms and would integrate the satellites. Thales Alenia Space was to design and build the communications payloads. Arabsat-5A was expected to have a launch mass of 4,800 kg. The multi-payload satellite would replace Arabsat-2B, which was reaching the end of its service life. Arabsat-5A would provide additional capacity for a comprehensive range of satellite communications services over sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. The 5,400 kilogram BADR-5 was designed to primarily provide full in-orbit backup capacity for BADR-4 and BADR-6 television services. Complementary missions included supporting the expected boom of HDTV and, thanks to the satellite's Ka-band capacity, the development of sophisticated interactive services. The satellite was designed to operate for 15 years. At the beginning of 2010, the launch was expected in the early May of that year.
As of 2010, BADR-5 was planned to be co-located with BADR-4 and BADR-6 Direct-To-Home satellites at ARABSAT’s 26-degree East longitude video "hot-spot." The satellite would guarantee to ARABSAT’s broadcasting customers a unique "hot" redundancy, the highest level of service provided within the MENA region. Complementary capability would include supporting the projected expansion of HD-TV broadcast and the development of sophisticated interactive services.
2010 July 11: A Proton-M/Briz-M rocket lifted off from Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 11, 2010, at 00:40 local time (July 10, 18:40 GMT). It carried the EchoStar 15 satellite for DISH Network of Englewood, California. The spacecraft was built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, California, based on the 1300-series platform and was designed to function for 20 years. From its location at 61.5 degrees West longitude, EchoStar 15 was designed to provide Ku-band services over the eastern continental United States.
The nine-hour 13-minute trip to orbit followed a standard ascent profile to send the Briz M upper stage and the EchoStar 15 satellite into a sub-orbital trajectory. It was followed by five burns of the upper stage to enter first a circular parking orbit, then an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The 5,521-kilogram EchoStar 15 satellite then successfully separated from the upper stage.
2010 Sept. 2: The Proton-M rocket with Block DM-2 upper stage lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 81 on Sept. 2, 2010, at 04:53 Moscow Summer Time, carrying a trio of GLONASS-M satellites. The separation of the payload from the upper stage was scheduled for 08:25 Moscow Time on the same day.
2010 Oct 14: A Proton-M rocket launched the XM-5 satellite for SIRIUS XM Radio from Baikonur. The launch vehicle lifted off from Pad 24 at Site 81 at 22:53 Moscow Time and the Briz-M upper stage successfully initiated the delivery of the payload into its final orbit. The separation of the XM-5 satellite from the upper stage was scheduled for 08:05 Moscow Time on October 15, 2010. On the morning of Oct. 15, International Launch Services, ILS, which markets Proton to commercial customers outside Russia, announced that after a 9-hour 12-minute mission, Briz M successfully released the XM-5 satellite, weighing over 5.9 metric tons, into geostationary transfer orbit.
According to ILS, the 6,000-kilogram XM-5 satellite would enhance the existing XM satellite fleet, ensuring XM subscribers across North America continue receiving more than 130 channels of digital music, entertainment and data services. Built on the flight proven Space Systems/Loral 1300 platform, the XM-5 satellite will provide high-power, digital audio radio service (DARS) and will have an end-of-life power capability of nearly 20 kilowatts, making it one of the world's most powerful communications satellites. The XM-5 satellite was to be placed at 80 degrees West longitude over the Equator, but would be moved to 85.2 degrees West after 30 days of in-orbit testing.
The mission was originally planned on Zenit-3SL with a DM-SL upper stage from the Sea Launch platform in December 2008 and was later delayed to late January/beginning of February 2009 and to December 2009. Following the bankruptcy of Sea Launch, on Nov. 10, 2009, ILS announced that the satellite would fly on Proton. The launch was originally planned for Oct. 5, but by middle of August 2010, slipped to Oct. 15.
2010 Nov. 14: With ever an accelerating launch pace, the workhorse Proton rocket flew a second commercial mission in 30 days. A Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage lifted off on Nov. 14, 2010, at 20:29:20 Moscow Time from Baikonur's Pad 39 at Site 200. It carried MSV-1/SkyTerra 1 (Light Squared) communications satellite for SkyTerra LLC. Following a 10-second vertical liftoff, the flight control system steered the vehicle eastward to an initial parking orbit with an inclination of 51.5 degrees toward the Equator 581 seconds after leaving the launch pad. After separation from the third stage of the launch vehicle, the Briz-M upper stage was scheduled to conduct five burns to reach a 6,035 by 35,786-kilometer orbit, where the satellite was scheduled to be released nine hours 14 minutes after liftoff.
The MSV satellite was designed to provide broadband wireless coverage consumer electronic devices in North and Central America to . Under construction by Boeing Company, MSV spacecraft were to operate in geostationary orbit over North America from 101 degrees and 107.3 degrees west longitude. The satellites featured 22-meter diameter, elliptical mesh reflectors that could support L-band communication with conventional handsets through a network based on MSV's patented ancillary terrestrial component technology.
The mission was previously expected between March and May 2010. Originally, Zenit-3SL was to launch at least one of two MSV communications satellites for Mobile Satellite Ventures LP and joint-venture partner Mobile Satellite Ventures (Canada). The contract between MSV and launch providers -- Sea Launch and ILS -- was announced on May 15, 2007, however after the collapse of Sea Launch both MSV satellites were switched to Proton, as a projected delay caused by Sea Launch's bankruptcy procedures could reach up to two years. The launch on Proton was previously planned for Aug. 17, but by mid-2010, the mission had to be delayed due to problems with the payload. The satellite manufacturer decided to change momentum wheel bearings, due to an industry notice from a sub-contractor on potential contamination of the silicon lubricant. As of the middle of August 2010, the launch was expected at the end of December 2010, however by the middle of September, the mission was moved to Nov. 14, 2010. Around that time, it was considered likely that the name of the satellite would be changed, following the re-naming of its owner -- SkyTerra LLC -- to Light Squared.
2010 Dec. 5: In a midst of a hectic launch schedule, a Proton M rocket failed during a mission to deliver a trio of Uragan-M/GLONASS satellites. The launch vehicle lifted off from Pad 24 at Site 81 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 13:25:18 Moscow Decree Time. According to the initial statement of the Russian space agency, the payload section (which included the Block DM-03 upper stage and three GLONASS satellites) separated in what was supposed to be an initial parking orbit 10 minutes after liftoff. However, according to follow-up official report, the mission's payload was delivered into a wrong orbit.
According to unofficial reports, at 14:01 Moscow Time or 26 minutes after reaching its initial orbit, the upper stage was scheduled to fire for six minutes, however before this could happen, the vehicle entered a suborbital trajectory, apparently resulting in reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. The semi-official RIA Novosti news agency quoted industry sources as saying that before the separation of the Block DM-3 upper stage, the launch vehicle had already deviated around eight degrees from its nominal pitch trajectory, resulting in the reentry and loss of satellites over the Pacific Ocean. The remnants of the vehicle reportedly splashed down 1,500 kilometers northwest of Honolulu. A press-release by RKK Energia, which built the upper stage, confirmed the reentry of the payload and said that an abnormal performance of the Proton rocket sent Block DM-03 with its cargo into the wrong flight path.
On the morning of Dec. 6, 2010, Russian media reported that a programming error in the flight control system had likely sent the vehicle onto the wrong path and that no mechanical problems with the rocket had been detected. Gennady Raikunov, the head of TsNIIMash research institute, the main expertise and certification center of the Russian space agency, was expected to lead the failure investigation commission.
The mission was previously reported to be planned for launch in November 2010 and as of middle of August was reported on schedule for launch on Nov. 30, 2010, however this date would have to be confirmed following a preceding GLONASS mission then scheduled for Sept. 2, 2010. The launch was later expected on Dec. 10, 2010.
On Dec. 7, 2010, Russia's semi-official Interfax news agency reported that the cause of the Proton launch failure had been traced to the overloading of the upper stage. The agency quoted an unnamed industry source as saying that the investigation commission was considering a scenario, where an extra ton of propellant (two tons according to other sources) was loaded into the Block DM-03 upper stage, as the most probable culprit in the accident. As a result of the heavier load, at the moment of separation between Proton's third stage and Block DM-03, the vehicles were flying around 100 meters per second below nominal velocity. A ground simulation of the flight conditions reportedly confirmed this failure scenario.
On the same day, International Launch Services, ILS announced that preparations for the next scheduled Proton launch with KA-SAT satellite on December 20 continued. The fueling of the Briz-M upper stage for this mission was completed on Dec. 6, 2010, ILS said. According to the company's press-release, an interim report was expected "in approximately one week that may include details on the respective performance of the Block DM-03 upper stage built and operated by RKK Energia and the three lower Proton M stages, all built and operated by Khrunichev." Such phrasing obviously hinted the possibility of isolating the latest launch failure to the Block DM-03 upper stage, thus clearing the next mission with Briz-M for flight. ILS stressed that the failed mission "was a maiden flight of the Block DM-03 upper stage, which is a derivative of Energia’s Block DM-3."
Industry sources told RussianSpaceWeb.com Block DM-03 has an approximately 25 percent larger propellant tanks than the previous version of the stage. With 2,000 kilograms of extra propellant, which was believed to be mistakenly loaded onboard, tanks would be filled close to the same level as the old ones - the oxygen tank would be 90 percent full with a 25-percent reserve load. (On Dec. 8, unofficial sources said that liquid oxygen overload onboard Block DM-03 had been 1.6 tons). As it transpired by Dec. 10, Block DM-03 had new (propellant level) sensors, however loading of propellant was conducted according to old instructions.
If the current failure scenario is confirmed, the Proton could be cleared for return to flight as soon as December 10 or even December 9, 2010, sources told.
On Dec. 9, Interfax reported that the head of Russian space agency, Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, could lose his job over the Proton failure. In the wake of the failed launch, Perminov came under fire for his characterization of the accident as "not a catastrophy," since there was no loss of life or damage to launch facilities. Sergei Prikhodko, a powerful aide to the Russian president, publically expressed his dismay at such criteria for the assessment of an important federal project. The accident was also accompanied by Russian publications about misappropiation of funds, corruption and nepotism at Roskosmos and its contractors responsible for the implementation of the GLONASS project.
In the ultimate fallout from the Proton failure, on Dec. 29, 2010, Kremlin's press-service announced that based on the report delivered by Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, the head of Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov had been officially reprimanded for the accident. In the meantime, Perminov's deputy Viktor Remishevsky and Vice President of RKK Energia responsible for launch vehicle systems Vechaslav Filin lost their jobs. Filin was a veteran of Soviet rocketry, with a resumé including a prominent role in the development of the super-heavy Energia launcher.
Dec. 27, 2010, 00:51 Moscow Time: Just three weeks after its high-profile failure, Russia's workhorse rocket lifted off in a bid to return to regular service.
A Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 200 on Dec. 27, 2010, at 00:51 Moscow Time (21:51 GMT on Dec. 26). The vehicle was carrying the 6,150-kilogram KA-SAT satellite built by EADS Astrium for Eutelsat.
To deliver the KA-SAT, the first three stages of the Proton were programmed to use a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit consisting of the Briz M upper stage and the KA-SAT satellite into a sub-orbital trajectory. From this point in the mission, the Briz M would perform five planned mission maneuvers to lift the payload first to a circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Separation of the KA-SAT satellite was scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 12 minutes after liftoff in a 35,786 by 3,713-kilometer orbit with an inclination of 24.6 degrees toward the Equator. The satellite would use its own propulsion unit to enter a final geostationary orbit for a 15-year-long mission.
At 01:01 Moscow Time, International Launch Services, ILS, which markets the Proton rocket to commercial customers outside Russia, confirmed normal separation between the third stage of the rocket and the Briz-M space tug attached to the payload. The beginning of the first firing of the Briz-M upper stage was confirmed two minutes later. By 01:11, the completion of the first Briz-M firing was confirmed as well, as the upper stage and the satellite went out of range of ground control.
Following five successful maneuvers, the Briz-M released the KA-SAT satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit as planned at 10:03 Moscow Time on Dec. 27, 2010. According to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, control over the satellite was transferred to the customer.
Payload: Based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, the KA-SAT satellite is the first new-generation European High Throughput Satellites optimized for consumer broadband services and targeting users located beyond range of high-speed terrestrial networks. Fully-operating in Ka-band frequencies and with a total throughout of 70 Gigabits per second, the satellite will be located at Eutelsat’s 9 degrees East position. Through a configuration of 82 spotbeams and a ground infrastructure of ten gateways connected to the Internet, service will be provided across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. In addition to supporting expansion of Eutelsat’s Tooway consumer broadband service, KA-SAT will open new resources for telecom operators, broadcasters and ISPs, for data and video services.
Pre-flight developments: As of June 2009, the launch of KA-SAT satellite was expected in November-December 2010. In February 2010, the launch was planned for November 2010 - January 2011. It was then set for Nov. 25, but by the middle of September, the launch was re-scheduled for Dec. 20, 2010.
Two days after the Proton launch failure on Dec. 5, 2010, International Launch Services, ILS announced that preparations for the scheduled Proton launch with the KA-SAT satellite on December 20 were continuing. The fueling of the Briz-M upper stage for this mission was completed on Dec. 6, 2010, ILS said. According to the company's press-release, an interim report was expected "in approximately one week that may include details on the respective performance of the Block DM-03 upper stage built and operated by RKK Energia and the three lower Proton M stages, all built and operated by Khrunichev." Such wording obviously hinted at the possibility of isolating the latest launch failure to the Block DM-03 upper stage, thus clearing the next mission with a Briz-M for flight. ILS stressed that the failed mission "was a maiden flight of the Block DM-03 upper stage, which is a derivative of Energia’s Block DM-3. If the current failure scenario was confirmed, the Proton could be cleared for the return to flight as soon as December 10 or even December 9, 2010, ILS hoped.
Around Dec. 10, 2010, officials responsible for the mission, stopped preparations at a 12-day readiness level, while waiting for the review of the investigation into the crash of the previous launch with GLONASS satellites. The pre-launch processing of the Proton rocket with the KA-SAT communications satellite was stopped, while the spacecraft's owner -- Eutelsat -- reviewed the results of the accident investigation with the insurance industry. Despite the delay, Proton operators hoped to resume launch preparations during the week of Dec. 13, enabling the mission to take off before the end of the year. If end-of-the-year deadline could not be met, KA-SAT would have next opportunity to lift off between Jan. 18 and Jan. 31, 2011, after the Orthodox Christmas holidays in Russia.
By Dec. 19, ILS had been given clearance to proceed with preparations for the KA-SAT launch, which was expected to take place on Dec. 27, 2010, at 00:51 Moscow Time. After some technical problems, the final "go" for the mission was given on Dec. 22, 2010.
Summary of Proton missions in 2010 (as of July 17, 2011 ):
Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: July 17, 2011
Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: February 27, 2011
All rights reserved
Proton-M with Raduga-1M lifts off on January 28, 2010. Credit: Roskosmos
The launch of the GLONASS satellites on March 2, 2010. Credit: TsENKI
Proton lifts off with SES-1 on April 24, 2010. Credit: Roskosmos
The Proton with XM-5 satellite lifted off during the night from Oct. 14 to Oct. 15, 2010. Credit: ILS
Proton launches SkyTerra 1 on Nov. 14, 2010. Credit: ILS
Proton lifts off on an ill-fated mission with GLONASS satellites on Dec. 5, 2010. Credit: Roskosmos
Proton is poised to launch KA SAT satellite in December 2010. Credit: Roskosmos
Proton lifts off with KA-SAT satellite on Dec. 27, 2010. Credit: TsENKI