What a relief for International Launch Services Inc. (ILS), a US-Russian subsidiary of Khrunichev, today when they successfully launched the greatly delayed EchoStar XXI aboard the Breeze M from Launch Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 03:45 UTC. The launch delay was almost one year to the day when an underperformance was reported of the upper stage that enlisted the service of an accident commission. They required corrective actions on the stage before it could be used again, which complicated matters when difficulties with the engines occurred that further delayed the original 2016 launch date.
This S-band craft was officially needed on station last year in compliance with its EU-issued license to operate. The satellite will be operated by Dublin-based EchoStar Mobile and is designed to supply connectivity to mobile and cellular devices across Europe. It is set to be placed at 10.25 degrees East.
EchoStar XXI, manufactured by SSL for the leading global satellite operator EchoStar Corporation (USA), is large at 6900 kgs and the critical giant reflector must be unfurled for the orbiting system to work.
EchoStar Mobile acquired Solaris Mobile in January of 2014. Solaris was a joint-venture established in 2008 and owned by SES of Luxembourg and Eutelsat of Paris. Echostar then used Space System/Loral to build the satellite, which according to a press statement, “to build upon the groundwork laid by Solaris Mobile by most immediately bringing with us access to a next-generation MSS [mobile satellite service] satellite which will support a wide range of innovative services across the European Union.”
Ascent Unit joint operations to integrate the spacecraft, adapter system, upper stage and the payload fairing were conducted at the Payload Processing Facility (bldg. 92-A50) as planned at the beginning of this month. EchoStar XXI is the sixth satellite in EchoStar’s orbital constellation launched by Proton LV.
Khrunichev Space Center (KhSC) (part of the ROSCOSMOS State Corporation) designs and manufactures the Proton system, Breeze M upper stage and the Angara family of vehicles. The Proton vehicle family has a heritage of 412 missions since 1965. KhSC includes among its branches several key manufacturers of launch vehicle and spacecraft components in Moscow and in other cities of the Russian Federation. KhSC is a majority owner of International Launch Services, Inc. (ILS) headquartered in Reston, Virginia (USA). ILS has exclusive rights to market and operate Proton vehicles for commercial customers.