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Russia postpones year's first launch of Proton rocket with European satellite — source

January 11, 14:03 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The rocket will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) on January 28 instead of January 25
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© Oeg Urusov/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/.This year's first launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) of Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket that should place into orbit the Eutelsat 9B satellite, has been postponed for three days, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Monday.

"The preliminary launch date is January 28," the source said.

The previous launch date, he said, was January 25. The source said that the launch was postponed because the staff of the Khrunichev Centre (manufacturer of Proton-M and Breeze-m upper stage) need more time to prepare the rocket and upper stage for launch.

The launch of the European spacecraft will be carried out by International Launch Services (ILS). The ILS joint venture was created in 1995 by Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre and the American corporation Lockheed Martin. Ten years after that Lockheed Martin withdrew from the partnership, selling the majority stake to a German businessman. In May 2008 the Khrunichev Centre bought the stake and ILS is its subsidiary ever since. The company, based in a suburb of Washington, D.C. - Reston (Virginia), over the past 20 years has carried out more than 80 commercial launches of the Proton carrier rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Russia leases from Kazakhstan.

ILS Proton Launch Services utilizes the Proton Breeze-M launch vehicle to launch and orbit commercial spacecraft. The Proton-M/ Breeze-M launcher is the latest evolution of the Proton launch vehicle that dates back to the initial launch in May 1965. The first Proton-M/ Breeze-M rocket was flown for a Russian federal mission in April 2001, and the first commercial Proton-M/ Breeze-M vehicle was flown in December 2002 with the NIMIQ 2 satellite for Telesat. Proton launch vehicles are designed and built by Khrunichev within its facility near Moscow. The Khrunichev facility is home to all engineering, assembly and test functions of the Proton launcher. With the recent consolidation of Russian space enterprises, Khrunichev has direct oversight and control of up to 70% of all Proton rocket manufacturing, including all engine systems. This consolidation directly supports Khrunichev’s ongoing efforts for vertical integration of Proton rocket production and management.

International Launch Services provides commercial launch services for global satellite operators, and offers a range of services and support, from contract signing through mission management and on-orbit delivery. It also provides sales and marketing, mission and quality management, launch operations, legal, licensing and support, integration mission design, Proton manufacturing, and technical translation services.

The Eutelsat 9B satellite was built on the order of the French satellite operator Eutelsat S.A. It is manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. The satellite’s mass is 5,175 kg and service life - 15 years. Eutelsat 9B is a high-capacity Ku-band satellite based on the Eurostar E3000 platform. It is scheduled to be launched to 9° East in 2016. The 50-transponder satellite will take 9° East to a new level of performance, increasing resources by 12 additional transponders. Capacity will be spread across five footprints, with frequency reuse significantly increasing overall bandwidth.

It will be the first launch of the Proton rocket in 2016, the 92nd launch under the ILS programme, the 11th launch with a Eutelsat satellite and the 21st launch with a satellite manufactured by Airbus.

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