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Satnews Daily
June 9th, 2016

No More Delays... Intelsat 31 Finally Gains Altitude Via ILS Proton-M Launch Vehicle

A Briz-M booster and the Intelsat 31 (Intelsat DLA2) satellite have separated from the third stage of the Proton-M carrier rocket that was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the press office of state space corporation Roscosmos has reported.

This satellite is the first for the freshly upgraded Proton-M carrier rocket  that is now able to handle increased capacity. The rocket’s staged modernization was initiated in 2003 at the Salyut design bureau, part of the Khrunichev Space Center. The payload capabilities were increased from 2.6 to 3.5 tons for geostationary orbit destinations and from 4.5 to almost 6.5 tons for  geostationary transfer orbit missions.

Proton-M carrier rocket launch, archive photo. © Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

The carrier rocket was expected to blast off in the morning of June 8; however, that launch was postponed due to technical reason—one of the rocket’s connectors proved to be faulty, one of many launch delays. This event had been planned for late 2015 and then, again, in April of 2016. The launch was then rescheduled for May 17 and then for May 28, then May 31 and lastly, June 8.

"The front section separated in a normal mode. The designated time of the spacecraft’s separation from the Briz-M acceleration unit [the time of bringing the satellite into the target orbit] is 01:41 a.m. Moscow time on June 10," Roscosmos said.

The acceleration unit will still have to fire engines five times to bring the satellite into the designated orbit.

The communications satellite is a product of Space Systems Loral and weighted over six tons. The contract for this launch was signed in March of 2013 by International Launch Services. The satellite will provide broadcasting services for Latin American customers.

Proton launch vehicles are designed and built by Khrunichev at their manufacturing facility near Moscow.