31 Jul 2020 10:17

Russia's Proton-M rocket with 2 Express satellites lifts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) - Russia's Proton-M launch vehicle carrying the Express-80 and Express-103 telecommunications satellites blasted off from Launch Pad No. 39 at Site No. 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 00:25 a.m.

The Roscosmos State Space Corporation livestreamed the launch.

The state corporation's livestream of the launch showed the satellites with the upper stage separating from the third stage of the Proton-M rocket around ten minutes after liftoff.

The engines of the Briz-M upper stage ignited at the 677th second of the flight. It will take the Briz-M approximately 18 hours to lift the satellites into orbit almost 55,000 kilometers above Earth, a record short orbit insertion operation. The Express-80 will be the first to detach from the upper stage, to be followed by the Express-103 17 minutes later. The satellites will be raised further using their own electric propulsion engines, simultaneously reaching their designated orbit, a maneuver that will help reduce the time of placing them into operation. The orbit raising operation for the Express-80 will take no more than 152 days, and no more than 160 days for the Express-103.

The Proton-M was initially set to lift off at 00:27:42 a.m. on July 30, but on the eve of that date, a state commission decided to delay the launch, citing the need for additional checks of the rocket's systems. Upon completion of this work, the rocket was cleared for fueling and liftoff.

The Express-80 and Express-103 are Russian mid-size telecommunications space satellites built by Roscosmos's JSC Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems using the Express-1000N platform. They are designed to provide fixed and mobile communications, digital television and radio broadcasting, high-speed Internet access and data transmission services across Russia and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States in C-, Ku-, and L-bands.