The federally operated Proton launch, handled by the rocket’s manufacturer Khrunichev, carried the second of four Blagovest satellites designed for internet, television and radio services.
A Russian rocket Proton-M, with a military satellite on board, the Blagovest No. 12L, has took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, the largest and oldest space launch facility in the world, as reported by the Ministry of Defense of Russia.
Currently, the Proton M launch vehicle with the Breeze M upper stage is Russia’s main heavy-lift workhorse to launch unmanned spacecraft into near-earth orbits as well as escape trajectories in support of federal and commercial missions.
The Blagovest satellite constellation will consist of at least four satellites in geostationary orbit. The launch of the Blagovest No.12L on Wednesday follows the successful deployment of the first satellite in the series, Blagovest No.11L, now known as Kosmos 2520, which was deployed in August 2017. Wednesday’s launch was the first Proton rocket flight of the year, and the 417th launch by a Proton booster since 1965. “At 01:22 a.m. Moscow time, the Proton-M reentry cone comprised of the Briz-M upper stage and a satellites launched in the interests of the Russian defense ministry separated from the third stage of the carrier rocked in a routine mode”, the ministry said, adding that the satellite will be put in the designated orbit within hours.
The satellites are created to provide high-speed access to the Internet, transmit data and offer telephone and video conference communications using the advanced Ka-and Ku-band frequencies. But the Blagovest program reportedly also has a civilian mission, and some details about the satellites have been revealed by the Russian military, which typically does not disclose information about top secret space missions. International Launch Services is handling the commercial mission, scheduled toward the end of the year.