Spaceflight Now Home

Mission Reports

For 13 years, Spaceflight Now has been providing unrivaled coverage of U.S. space launches. Comprehensive reports and voluminous amounts of video are available in our archives.
Space Shuttle
Atlas | Delta | Pegasus
Minotaur | Taurus | Falcon


Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest space news e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.


Space Books

Proton rocket lifts off with Russian military payload

Posted: November 11, 2013
Updated: 2355 GMT and Nov. 12

A Russian military communications satellite took a nine-hour ride to orbit overnight Monday after a smooth liftoff aboard a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The payload was delivered to a 22,300-mile-high orbit by the launcher's Breeze M upper stage.

Photo of the Proton rocket on the launch pad with the third Raduga 1M satellite. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia's third Raduga 1M communications satellite blasted off at 2346 GMT (6:46 p.m. EST) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. Nine hours later, the Proton's Breeze M upper stage released the payload into an orbit reaching geostationary altitude, the height where a satellite appears suspended over a fixed location on Earth, according to Novosti.

The Raduga 1M satellite will be positioned in geostationary orbit for its communications mission, but the craft's exact capabilities, life expectancy and final operating location are being kept secret by the Russian military.

The modernized Raduga, or Globus, communications satellites are designed to link Russian troops and senior military commanders. The spacecraft can relay messages through small mobile terminals deployed on the battlefield, according to Russian defense officials.

The satellites are built by ISS Reshetnev, a Russian space contractor.

The Raduga system is also used for strategic communications among high-level Russian government officials.

The launch will be the eighth Proton mission of the year and the 391st Proton flight since 1965.

It will be the third Proton launch, and the first for a Russian government customer, since a Proton rocket tumbled out of control immediately after liftoff with three Russian navigation satellites in July.

The commercial payload for the Proton's next launch in early December arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Monday. The Inmarsat 5 F1 communications satellite, built by Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. in El Segundo, Calif., flew from the United States to Baikonur aboard an Antonov An-124 transport plane, London-based Inmarsat announced Monday.

The spacecraft will inaugurate Inmarsat's Global Xpress superfast Ka-band broadband service. Two more satellites will launch on Proton rockets in 2014 to expand the reach of Global Xpress worldwide.

Commercial Proton launches are managed by U.S.-based International Launch Services.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.