Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Russian Proton to Launch DirecTV Satellite Monday

A Russian rocket will deliver to orbit a telecommunications satellite for the Americas next week as the final earth launch of the year.

A new DirecTV satellite will support broader high definition broadcasts to the United States, and increase the amount of HD channels DirecTV carries. Built by Boeing Space, the spacecraft will orbit in geostationary orbit, and will support an additional 200-plus HD channels for the broadcast company.

Liftoff of the Proton M rocket (UR-500) with the DirecTV-12 satellite is planned for December 28th at 7:22 pm EST (0022 GMT Dec. 29) from pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The 1.55 million pound Proton M's launch profile will see the rocket fly eastward over Kazakhstan, neighboring Mongolia and eastern China before sailing over the Korean peninsula and southern Japan. It's orbital inclination will then carry it over the southern Pacific Ocean and then up toward South America.

The Proton's first stage -- which supports six liquid fueled RD-276 engines and a core engine -- will burn from launch until just prior to stage separation at T+2 minutes. The second stage will then burn three RD-0210 engines for the next 206 seconds of the flight. The rocket's third stage will next take over to carry the satellite into low earth orbit.

A series of five burns will then raise the craft's orbit ever higher to it's geo-transfer orbit.

Spacecraft separation from it's kick motor is scheduled to occur nine hours, ten minutes post-launch over southern Somalia, Africa, in an initial orbit of 3,181 x 22,236 miles.

Designed to operate for 15 years, the DirecTV satellite will become operational by March and operate over the equator at a planned position of 102.8 west longitude.

The 131-transponder DirecTV-12 spacecraft was mated to the Proton's adapter on December 13. A day later, the adapter was then mated to the rocket's Breeze-M upper stage, according to International Launch Services.

Monday's launch will be the seventh ILS Proton launch of 2009, and only the 56th Proton launch for ILS overall.

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