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US communication satellite ViaSat orbited by Proton-M rocket

October 20, 2011, 9:10 UTC+3
The American communications satellite ViaSat-1 at 08:00 MSK on Thursday was placed in a geostationary orbit after it was launched on Wednesday from the Baikonur
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MOSCOW, October 20 (Itar-Tass) — The American communications satellite ViaSat-1 at 08:00 MSK on Thursday was placed in a geostationary orbit after it was launched on Wednesday from the Baikonur cosmodrome by the Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M upper stage, the press service of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) told Itar-Tass. The satellite’s control was transferred to the customer.

The blastoff of the Proton-M launch vehicle with the Briz-M upper stage was carried out on Wednesday at 22:48 MSK.

The launch, according to the American company International Launch Services (ILS), was carried out in the interests of a number of leading companies on the broadband communications market. The new satellite, created by California’s Space Systems is designed to meet the growing demand for broadband Internet access. The speed ·of · transmission and reception of this satellite is much higher than of its analogues in the satellite industry, which will greatly improve the quality of broadband networks throughout North America and Hawaii. Next year, a new level of satellite services will be available to passengers of certain airlines. The estimated service life of the satellite is 15 years.

ViaSat-1, the highest capacity satellite in the world, is designed to transform the economics and quality of service for satellite broadband, according to the company website. With 140 Gbps total throughput capacity, the new satellite can serve the accelerating growth in bandwidth demand for multimedia Internet access over the next decade. The download and upload speeds available on ViaSat-1 will be much faster than anything previously offered in the satellite industry, and will transform the quality of satellite broadband.

The high-capacity Ka-band spot beam satellite covers North America and Hawaii, enabling a variety of new, satellite Internet access services beginning with WildBlue in the US and Xplornet in Canada. Then, beginning in 2012, the technology is also scheduled to begin delivering this new level of service to airline passengers aboard JetBlue Airways and Continental Airlines.

ILS is based in Reston, Virginia, and promotes Khrunichev’s Proton carrier rocket and Briz-M booster on the international market. The joint venture was set up in 1995 by Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev and Energia. In 2006, Lockheed Martin withdrew from the partnership and sold its majority share to one of the German entrepreneurs. In May 2008, Khrunichev bought that share. ILS has made 67 Proton launches since 1996.

Proton initially started life as a “super ICBM”. It was designed to throw a 100-megaton (or larger) nuclear warhead over a distance of 13,000 km. It was hugely oversized for an ICBM, and was never deployed in such a capacity. It was eventually utilised as a space launch vehicle. It was the brainchild of Vladimir Chelomei's design bureau as a foil to Sergei Korolev's N1 booster with the specific intent of sending a two-man Zond craft around the Moon. With the termination of the Saturn V program, Proton became the largest expendable launch system in service until the Energia rocket first flew in 1987 and the US Titan IV in 1989.

Between the 1965 first flight and 1970, the Proton experienced dozens of failures. However, once perfected it became one of the most reliable heavy launch vehicles. With a total of about 335 launches, it has a 96 percent success rate.

Proton launched the unmanned Soviet circumlunar flights, and was intended to have launched the first Soviet circumlunar space flights, before the United States flew the Apollo 8 mission. Proton launched the Salyut space stations, the Mir core segment and expansion modules, and both the Zarya and Zvezda modules of the ISS. It also launched many probes to the Moon, Mars, Venus, and even Halley's Comet (using the 4-stage D-1e version).

Proton also launches commercial satellites, most of them being managed by International Launch Services.

On March 1, 2006, a Proton-M rocket failed to launch Arabsat 4A. Following successful first, second, and third stage burns, its upper stage shut down early and failed to place Arabsat 4A into its proper geostationary orbit. An investigation concluded that a foreign particle in the upper stage oxidizer system blocked a pump nozzle, causing the shutdown. After changes were made to resolve the problems, the Proton-M successfully launched the European Hot Bird 8 satellite on August 5, 2006. On February 19, 2007, the upper stage which failed to bring Arabsat 4A to its correct orbit exploded over Australia after almost a year in space, creating a cloud of space debris.

On September 5, 2007, another Proton-M rocket, this time carrying the JCSAT-11 spacecraft, failed. On this occasion, a wiring fault prevented the first stage from separating from the second stage. A subsequent launch was successful.

On March 15, 2008, Proton-M suffered its second failure in six months, when it left the AMC-14 satellite in a useless orbit after the second burn of the Briz-M upper-stage shut down prematurely. The failure was caused by a ruptured exhaust gas conduit, which led to a shutdown of the turbo pump feeding the Briz-M engine. Krunichev Space Centre proceeded to make modifications on the Briz-M engine and also completed a detailed quality assurance review.

On August 19, 2008 Proton-M successfully launched one the biggest commercial satellites ever built - the Inmarsat 4 F3.

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