Proton M “test flies” Angara’s Block DM-03 upper stage during launch of Express AM-8

by | Sep 17, 2015 | commercial launch services, Russia, Satellites | 0 comments

At 1900 GMT on 14 September 2015, a Proton M launch vehicle, using a new DM-03 version of the Block DM series of upper stages, successfully launched the Express AM-8 communications spacecraft for the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC).  The flight, which took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, near Tyuratam, Kazakhstan, carried the 2,163kg communications payload into orbit on its way to its 14 degree West longitudinal position in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO).  The spacecraft was built by Reshetnev and uses a Thales Alenia Ku-band and C-band communications payload.

Unlike most of Proton M’s more recent missions, which normally employ the Breeze M upper stage, this non-commercial flight was believed to have the secondary function of being a “shakedown” test flight of the Energia-built Block DM-03 (Block DM-03) upper stage. This was ahead of its use (along with the Breeze-M) by the Angara A5 rocket, the launch vehicle which will eventually replace Proton M.   The two previous Proton launches carrying the Block DM-03 failed before the stage had a chance to work.

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