ILS Proton successfully launches Yamal-401 satellite
A Proton booster successfully delivered its payload of the Yamal-401 satellite to orbit on Dec, 15 at 6:16 a.m. today local time (00:16 GMT and 7:16 p.m. EST on December 14). The launch took place through 7:16 p.m. EST (6:16 a.m. local time – 0016 GMT). The spacecraft was placed into a geosynchronous orbit atop a Proton launched by International Launch Services (ILS ) and in so doing – marked the 400th launch of the venerable booster since it first came online in 1965.
The mission was flown for the JSC Gazprom Space Systems based out of Moscow and was launched from Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrone located in Kazakhstan.
The Proton has encountered some rather spectacular failures in recent years with the loss of several Uragan-M GLONASS satellites launched on a single Proton in 2013 and the Ekspress-AM4R spacecraft which was lost in May of 2014. This particular launch was, by all accounts, a success with the rocket’s three stages carrying out a standard ascent profile.
The Yamal-401 spacecraft was placed into a suborbital trajectory via the Briz-M upper stage. The Briz-M conducted out a 4 burn flight profile – first sending its payload into a circular “parking,” then a transfer and ultimately – a geosynchronous orbit. Once there, the Yamal-401 separated from Briz-M.
Yamal-401 weighs about 3 metric tons and was constructed by JSC ISS Reshetnev along with Thales Alenia Space and was based on the Express 2000-A platform. According to a report appearing on Space FellowshipThales produced the spacecraft’s repeater antennas as well as portions of the satellite’s platform.
Yamal-401 will circle the globe at an orbital location of 90° East longitude where the communications satellite will provide services to Russia and other countries that were part of the former Soviet Union. The spacecraft will send one, fixed beam in the C band, as well as two fixed beams in the KU band.
JSC Gazprom Space Systems – will operate Yamal-401 spacecraft which, according to ILS, has: The total capacity of the Yamal 401 satellite will amount to 53 physical transponders or 88 equivalent (36 MHz) transponders.
“We thank Gazprom for the opportunity to launch this important satellite and to help expand their business with the launch of Yamal 401, the second launch for Gazprom by ILS. We are grateful for the mission teams of Gazprom, ILS, Khrunichev, ISS Reshetnev and Thales Alenia Space for their dedication to mission success throughout the entire campaign,” said ILS President Phil Slack.
Yesterday’s launched marked the 86th launch of an ILS Proton overall and the 2nd flight this company has carried out using the rocket this year. The Proton can trace its lineage – all the way back to 1965 – when it was initially launched, it served as a Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or “ICBM.” Proton was creation of Valdimir Chelomei’s design bureau and meant to serve as competition for the massive N-1 Moon rocket that the former Soviet Union was developing at that time.
The Proton Briz-M launch vehicle was developed and manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, which serves as the majority shareholder in ILS.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.