MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. A Proton-M carrier rocket with the Ekspress-AMU-3 and Ekspress-AMU-7 telecommunications satellites will blast off from site No. 200 of the Baikonur cosmodrome on December 13, the Roscosmos press office told TASS on Monday.
"A paired launch of the Ekspress-AMU7 and Ekspress-AMU3 satellites is planned with the help of a Proton-M carrier rocket and a Briz-M booster at 15:07 Moscow time on December 13, 2021, from the Baikonur spaceport," Roscosmos said.
In about nine minutes after the lift-off, the rocket’s head unit comprising the booster and two communications satellites will separate from the carrier’s upper stage. The Ekspress-AMU-7 will separate from the booster in 17 hours and 50 minutes and the Ekspress-AMU3 in 18 hours and 7 minutes.
The satellites will be finally orbited with the help of two SPD-100V thrusters and one SPD-14OD engine.
"It will take no more than 56 days to finally orbit the Ekspress-AMU7 satellite and no more than 59 days to put the Ekspress-AMU3 into final orbit," Roscosmos said.
The Ekspress-AMU3 and Ekspress-AMU7 telecoms satellites were earlier expected to be launched in 2020. CEO of the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company Nikolai Testoyedov told TASS in September last year that the production of the satellites was being delayed over the late delivery of payloads for these space vehicles from Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin announced in December last year that the launch of these satellites had been rescheduled for the end of 2021. Roscosmos announced its plans in mid-November to launch the satellites on December 6.
Roscosmos Chief Rogozin later told TASS that the launch of the Ekspress-AMU3 and Ekspress-AMU7 telecoms satellites atop the Proton-M carrier rocket had been rescheduled from December 6 for December 12 over the need to carry out some work on the Briz-M upper stage. Roscosmos subsequently specified that specialists of the Khrunichev Space Center had eliminated a fault found on the Briz-M booster. However, the lift-off was postponed to the back-up date over a problem with the Briz-M booster and the carrier rocket was delivered back to the assembly and measuring facility.
The fault was subsequently eliminated and the state commission at the Baikonur spaceport made a decision on December 11 on delivering the Proton-M heavy carrier rocket to the launch pad to prepare it for launch on December 13.