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Proton launches Russian communications satellite.

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Proton Launch.
Proton Launches Russian Communications Satellite: Image credit: ILS.

A powerful Proton K rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Tuesday night, carrying a Russian Express-AM2 communications satellite. It lifted off at 2231 GMT (5:31 pm EST), and placed its payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit a few hours later. The Express-AM2 satellite will provide broadcast television and other communication services for Russia and Southeast Asia.

The new Russian Express-AM2 communications satellite was successfully launched into orbit by Proton-K launch-vehicle with the DM accelerating propulsion system at 1.31 a.m. Moscow time (29/03/2005 22.31 GMT). The new Express-AM2 satellite will be placed into geostationary orbit at 80 E. In the beginning of July, upon completing in-orbit tests and the system performing check Express-AM2 will be put into operation as a part of RSCC in-orbit satellite constellation.

Express-AM2 is the fourth out of five new-generation Express-AM satellites to be produced and launched by the end of 2005 in the context of Russian Federal Space Program. The first three Express-AM satellites, i.e. Express-AM22 (53 E), Express-AM11 (96.5 E), and Express-AM1 (40 E) are being successfully operated on geostationary orbit. The fifth Express-AM satellite, Express-AM3 (140 E), is planned to be launched in June, 2005.

The Express-AM2 satellite (80E) was developed by Russian NPO PM in cooperation with Alcatel Space French company. Sberbank of the Russian Federation takes an active part in financing the Program for Renovation of Russian satellite constellation. The launch and operation of new Express-AM satellites, including Express-AM2, are insured by Ingosstrakh insurance company (Russia).

The spacecraft carries 16 C-band transponders (40 and 72 MHz bandwidth), 12 Ku-band transponders (54 MHz bandwidth) and 1 L-band transponder (0.5 MHz bandwidth) with improved performance characteristics. Its in-orbit operational life time is 12 years, station keeping accuracy is +0.05? north-south/west-east that allows to use cheap antenna sets without automatic tracking devices. Express-AM2 provides coverage across Russia, the western and eastern parts of China, Korea, Northern India, Bangladesh, Butan, Nepal, northern part of Indochina.

The new satellite is designed to carry out state missions (mobile presidential and governmental communications, federal broadcasting, deployment of special satellite communications networks) and to provide a multi service communications package (digital broadcasting/ distribution, telephony, videoconferencing, data, broadband Internet access). In addition, the new satellite will be used for VSAT networks, departmental and corporate networks, and to provide multimedia services (distance learning, telemedicine etc.).

"The new Express-AM2 satellite will be put into strategically important orbital point 80 East over West Siberian plain. It will enable RSCC to implement its strategy aimed at providing the users in Russia and CIS with modern and cost-effective communications and broadcasting services. Besides, such location of the spacecraft will consolidate the Russian position on satellite communication markets of Central and South-East Asia"- emphasized Acting Director General of RSCC Yuri Izmailov.

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