Proton Back in Action Thursday After Being Grounded for 1 Year

Proton on launch pad (Credit: ILS)

Russia’s Proton booster will begin launching again on Thursday, June 8, which will be one day short of a year after its most recent flight.

Proton Breeze M will launch the EchoStar XXI communications satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 03:45:47 UMT (23:45:47 Wednesday, June 7).

A live webcast will begin approximately 30 minutes prior to the launch at The live broadcast can be seen on DISH HD Channel 89 and DISH SD Channel 88.

Proton has been grounded since June 9, 2016. While launching the Intelsat 31 communications satellite, the Proton’s second stage under performed. The third stage fired longer than planned to get the spacecraft to its intended orbit.

An investigation found that lower quality materials had been substituted during engine production. The manufacturing problem also affected engines made for Soyuz boosters.

International Launch Services (ILS), which markets the Proton for commercial missions, described the upcoming flight in a media advisory.

The Proton M launch vehicle, utilizing a 5-burn Breeze M mission design, will lift off from Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with the EchoStar XXI satellite on board. The first three stages of the Proton will use a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the EchoStar XXI satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.

From this point in the mission, the Breeze M will perform planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a nearly circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit, followed by a transfer orbit, and finally to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Separation of the EchoStar XXI satellite is scheduled to occur approximately 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff.

ILS also described the satellite, which was built by Space Systems Loral.

EchoStar XXI is a state-of-the-art S-band satellite designed to provide mobile connectivity throughout Europe. The spacecraft, based on SSL’s 1300 bus, will be located at the 10.25°East orbital slot. EchoStar subsidiary EchoStar Mobile Limited, an EU-wide licensee for an integrated mobile satellite service network with a complementary ground component, will utilizea portion of the capacity on EchoStar XXI to provision its next-generation, all IP-enabled mobile communications network.

Satellite Statistics

  • S-Band mobile user link and Ka-Band gateway link
  • Orbital location: 10.25 degrees East
  • Anticipated service life: 15 years