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Proton-M launch vehicle to lift off from Baikonur Space Center, first time this year

June 08, 3:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The vehicle is to take into orbit the U.S. telecom probe Echostar-21

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MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. A Proton-M launch vehicle is to lift off from the Baikonur Space Center, the first time this year and the first time after an almost twelve months-long interval.

"The liftoff of the Proton-M vehicle is scheduled for 06:45 Moscow Standard Time (03:45 UTC) from Launch Pad 81 at Baikonur," a spokesperson for the Russian Federal Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Wednesday.

The vehicle is to take into orbit the U.S. telecom probe Echostar-21.

The previous liftoff of a Proton family vehicle took place on June 9, 2016. The vehicle brought the Intelsat-31 satellite then. Echostar-21 was to be launched soon after but the date was rescheduled time after time and then was postponed after specialists had found a defect in stage two and stage three engines.

Reports said the manufacturer had used a different soldering flux in the production of 71 engines. Although it was more expensive, it still did not meet the general technological requirements.

Two minutes after liftoff, the first-stage vehicle will separate. It is expected to fall in the steppe of Kazakhstan’s Karaganda region. The second-stage vehicle will separate in another 210 or so seconds.

Nose fairing halves will be discharged simultaneously. They will fall somewhere in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia.

The third-stage vehicle will take the Briz-M upper stage rocket and Echostar-21 to the datum orbit at 06:55 Moscow Standard Time.

The further travel of the space probe to a geo-transitional orbit with the parameters of 36,000 km by 2,300 km will be assisted by five burns of the upper-stage vehicle.

On the whole, delivery of Echostar-21 to the designated orbit (from the takeoff through to the separation of the space probe from the upper-stage booster) is likely to take 9 hours 13 minutes and will round up at 15:58 Moscow Standard Time. After that the U.S. customer, the U.S. mobile telephony operator EchoStar Corporation, will take over control of the satellite.

Echostar-21 is a powerful geostationary telecom satellite built by Space Systems/Loral. It will support cellular services in Europe.

The satellite weighs 6,871 kg and has an estimated time limit of active existence of fifteen years.

The signatory of the launch contract on the Russian side is International Launch Services (ILS) that promotes the space launches with the aid of Proton and Angara rocket vehicles. It belongs to Russia’s Khrunichev Aerospace Center.

This will be the 94th launch of a Proton family vehicle under the ILS program and the 413th launch in the history of these vehicles.

The first-ever Proton went into space in 1996. Echostar-21 will be the sixth satellite in the Echostar grouping launched with the aid of a Proton rocket.

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