Pair of RSCC Satellites Healthy on Orbit following Russian Proton Launch

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PARIS — Russia’s Proton rocket on March 17 successfully launched two telecommunications satellites, Express-AT1 and Express-AT2, for the Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC), Russia’s largest domestic telecommunications fleet operator.

Moscow-based RSCC is leasing capacity on both satellites for 15 years to Eutelsat of Paris.

The launch, which was part of the Russian Federal program and was not a commercial campaign managed by International Launch Services (ILS) of Reston, Va., is one of multiple liftoffs aboard Protons this year for RSCC as the company replenishes its in-orbit fleet.

In addition to providing capacity for Russian and European satellite fleet operators, the two spacecraft were built by a Russian-French team. In the latest product of their long-standing partnership for the Russian market, Russian manufacturer ISS Reshetnev supplied the satellite platforms, with Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy supplying the payloads. The two companies have joined forces on about a dozen satellites in the past 15 years.

Thales Alenia Space and RSCC said both satellites were healthy and sending signals after being placed into orbit by the Proton Breeze-M upper stage.

Express-AT1 will operate at 56 degrees east. It carries 32 Ku-band transponders to be pointed at most of Russia’s territory. The satellite is designed to operate for 15 years and to deliver 6.7 kilowatts of power to its payload. Eutelsat has leased 19 transponders for the satellite’s full life.

Express-AT2, to operate at 140 degrees east, carries 16 Ku-band transponders, of which Eutelsat is leasing eight. It is designed to deliver 3.5 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its 15-year life.

“The launch of Express-AT1 and Express-AT2 satellites is critical for the development of domestic DBS [direct-broadcast television satellites],” RSCC Director-General Yuri Prokhorov said in a statement.

“Users in Siberia and the Far East will gain access to new Russian and international TV channels. Networks currently operated [using the Bonum-1 satellite] will be switched by RSCC specialists over to the new satellites after their commissioning. “

The two satellites are expected to enter service, after testing, in April and May.