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Russia’s state commission greenlights Proton rocket’s launch with 2 foreign satellites

A Proton-M carrier rocket is scheduled to launch with two foreign satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday

MOSCOW, October 9. /TASS/. Russia’s state commission has made a decision on the readiness of a Proton-M carrier rocket for its scheduled launch with two foreign satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday, the State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on its Twitter.

"The state commission has made a decision on the readiness of the Proton-M carrier rocket for its fueling and launch scheduled for 1:17 p.m. Moscow time," the federal space agency said.

The Proton-M carrier rocket with a Breeze-M booster, which is set to deliver the European Eutelsat-5WB and the US MEV-1, will blast off from site No. 200 at the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan.

International Launch Services Company signed a contract for this launch in 2016. Initially, the liftoff was scheduled for September 30, 2019 but was delayed due to the need to hold further tests of the booster’s control system. A source in the domestic space industry explained to TASS that the launch was delayed because the US satellite was attached incorrectly to the upper stage.

Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin confirmed to reporters that a problem linked with the interface between the Russian control system and the satellites’ electronics was the cause of the launch’s delay. On September 27, the state commission made a decision to reschedule the launch for October 9.

Record delivery in orbit

The upper part of the Proton-M rocket with the booster and two satellites is set to separate from the third stage 582.3 seconds (about ten minutes) after the liftoff.

After that, the Breeze-M will fire its engines five times to deliver the satellites into the designated orbits.

The Eutelsat 5WB is set to separate from the booster 15 hours and 36 minutes after the launch, at 04:53 a.m. Moscow time on October 10, while the US MEV-1 will detach several minutes after that, at 05:12 a.m. Moscow time.

The delivery of the satellites into their designated orbits, from the blast-off to their separation, will take a record 15 hours and 54 minutes. Roscosmos explained to TASS that such a lengthy delivery was related to the satellites’ orbits.

The previous record was set by an ExoMars probe launched in March 2016 with the help of a Proton-M rocket. The rocket’s Breeze-M booster injected the interplanetary station into its flight path to Mars in about 11 hours.