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MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Briz-M booster block carrying the Express-AMU1 telecommunications satellite has successfully separated from the Proton-M launch vehicle and reached the suborbital flight trajectory, spokespeople for the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told TASS.
"In the coming few minutes the booster block will switch on the engine for bringing the satellite to the designated orbit," he said.
Proton-M lifted off the Baikonur Space Center at 00:31 Moscow Standard Time on Thursday, December 25 (21:31 hours GMT on Wednesday, December 24). This was the 18th launch of the Proton carriers from Baikonur this year and the last one until the New Year.
Initially, the launch was scheduled for 00:30 on December 24 but it was put off for twenty-four hours because of gale in the area of the space center.
Under plans, the further delivery of the satellite to the designated orbit will be done with the aid of several activations of the Briz-M block engine. The satellite and the block are expected to separate at 09:43 Moscow Standard Time.
Express-AMU1 has been manufactured by the European corporation Astrium. It has the liftoff weight of about 5.9 tons and contains about 70 transponders working in the Ku and Ka ranges.
The satellite will be orbiting the Earth on a geostationary orbit, covering the Russia, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
Express-AMU1 will stay in operation for fifteen years. Yuri Prokhorov, the director of Russia’s Kosmicheskaya Svyaz federal telecom enterprise said the satellite would come on stream in the first quarter of 2016.