Proton returns to flight carrying heavyweight Echostar 21 to GTO

by | Jun 9, 2017 | Launches, Satellites, Seradata News

International Launch Services (ILS) may have been partially usurped by its SpaceX rival for the number two position behind Arianespace, but it remains a power to be reckoned with in the commercial launch services market. It underlined this when its Proton M/Breeze M rocket combination successfully launched the heavy-weight 6,781 kg EchoStar 21 commercial communications satellite into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on 8 June 2017.

The launch took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan at 0346 GMT. A Breeze M upper stage, five-burn process was used resulting in a final injection into GTO. The spacecraft will now use its own on board propulsion to raise itself into its operational Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) position over 10.25 degrees East longitude.

Mission poster for the EchoStar 21 Proton launch. Courtesy: ILS

Built by SSL (Space Systems Loral), the EchoStar 21 spacecraft is designed to operate for 15 years, the spacecraft was the heaviest commercial payload ever flown by a Proton rocket. The spacecraft carries an 18 m reflector antenna designed to operate in conjunction with its S-band mobile communications payload for the EchoStar Mobile IP-based service over Europe.

In a sign of a new seriousness taken over quality control, the original planned launch date in December last year was put back by six months while suspect solder used on the rocket’s second stage engines was investigated.


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