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Russia Proton-M Booster Puts US Satellite Into Orbit

File image of Proton M launch.
by Staff Writers
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (RIA Novosti) Jul 09, 2007
A Russian Proton-M carrier rocket has successfully delivered U.S. telecommunications satellite, DirecTV-10, into orbit, Russia's space agency said. The rocket, powered by a Briz-M booster was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 5.16 a.m. Moscow time Saturday (1.16 a.m. GMT). The launch services were provided by International Launch Services, a U.S.-Russian joint venture with exclusive rights for worldwide commercial sales and mission management of satellite launches on Russia's Proton carrier rockets.

The joint venture partners are Space Transport Inc., a privately held corporation based in the British Virgin Islands, and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia of Moscow.

The company has conducted a total of 47 commercial Proton launches since 1996, and has 14 scheduled launches through 2010.

The Proton vehicle launches both commercial ILS missions and Russian government payloads from the Baikonur space center, which is operated by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) under lease from the Republic of Kazakhstan.

earlier related report
ILS Proton Successfully Launches DIRECTV 10
International Launch Services (ILS) successfully launched the DIRECTV 10 satellite today using an enhanced version of Russia's premier vehicle, the Proton. The Proton Breeze M rocket lifted off at 7:16 a.m. today local time (9:16 p.m. Friday EDT, 01:16 today GMT) from the Cosmodrome's Pad 39. The mission lasted 9 hours and 8 minutes, before the Breeze M upper stage placed the DIRECTV 10 satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. After about two months of in-orbit testing, the satellite will move to its operating position of 102.8 degrees West longitude to enhance DIRECTV's high-definition services across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

"We're proud of the excellent performance of our Enhanced Proton Breeze M and its demonstrated ability to lift such a massive payload as the DIRECTV 10 satellite," said ILS President Frank McKenna. "At around 6 metric tons, this Boeing 702 model was the heaviest spacecraft launch for Proton."

McKenna continued: "Not only are we proud of the vehicle's performance, we're also proud of our schedule performance. We met our commitment to launch the satellite in order to support DIRECTV's goal of delivering up to 100 national HDTV channels by the end of the year."

This was the 41st mission for ILS, which is an American-based joint venture of Space Transport Inc. and Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, manufacturer of the Proton vehicle.

The Proton enhancements demonstrated with this launch culminate two years of research, development and testing by Khrunichev, one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry. While the primary purpose was to meet the requirements of ILS commercial customers and their larger satellites, the enhanced vehicle will ultimately be used for Russian federal missions as well.

Modern design tools allowed Khrunichev to fine-tune such things as fuel tanks, and redesign them to remove mass while maintaining safety margins. Lighter materials were used between the rocket's stages, and graphite epoxy sections replaced metal interstage adapters. Additionally, the Breeze M reaction control system (RCS) has been improved. As part of this, the RCS fuel tanks were reduced in number from six to only two. "Reducing the number of parts and manufacturing one standardized version of the vehicle inherently improves reliability," McKenna said.

This was the third DIRECTV satellite launched on a Proton vehicle. DIRECTV 8 was launched on May 22, 2005, and DIRECTV 5 was carried to orbit May 7, 2002.

ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton vehicle worldwide to commercial satellite operators. As of the first half of this year, the company brought in more than $1 billion in new business and has a backlog of 20 missions

earlier related report
DIRECTV 10 Launch A Giant Leap for HD
El Segundo, CA - The DIRECTV 10 satellite soared into space yesterday, beginning the first leg of its mission to dramatically expand HD programming for millions of DIRECTV customers nationwide and establish DIRECTV as the industry's HD pace-setter.

The Boeing-built 702 model satellite lifted off at 6:16 p.m. PDT, Friday, July 6, from Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Russian-built Proton Breeze M launch vehicle. After nine hours and eight minutes in flight, the rocket left the spacecraft in a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point of 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator. Controllers at the ground station in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa have made contact with the satellite and confirmed that all systems are functioning properly.

After the spacecraft is maneuvered into a circular orbit at 103 degrees West longitude and tests are completed, it is expected to begin operations in early September, delivering the first of up to 100 national HD channels by year-end. The DIRECTV 10 satellite's powerful transponder payload includes spot beam capacity that will enable DIRECTV to expand its local HD channel services to up to 75 markets this year.

"With the successful launch of our DIRECTV 10 satellite, we are, to borrow a phrase, boldly going where no TV service has gone before - a new world of up to 100 HD channels and a viewing experience unmatched in the multichannel video marketplace," said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Development and Strategy, DIRECTV, Inc. "We congratulate the Boeing and ILS teams on a flawless launch as we begin the next countdown to September when the first of our new HD channels will be available to our customers."

DIRECTV has agreements in place to rollout multiple HD channels from top content providers such as Disney, Discovery Communications, A and E Television Networks, HBO, Fox, Turner, NBC Universal, Showtime Networks, Starz and Scripps Networks, among others.

An additional satellite, DIRECTV 11, will be launched early next year to support further HD expansion in 2008. Between the two satellites, DIRECTV will be capable of delivering more than 1,500 local HD channels and 150 national HD channels, in addition to new advanced programming services for customers.

DIRECTV 10 is the third DIRECTV satellite launched on an ILS Proton vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the oldest space launch facility in the world.

Source: RIA Novosti
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