On Tuesday, June 6th at 6:59 am Moscow time the new Breeze M upper stage, mounted atop a Proton K launch vehicle, successfully launched the Gorizont (Horizon) spacecraft into geosynchronous orbit for the Russian Space Communications Company. The Proton K and the Breeze M are both built by the Khrunichev Space Center in Moscow, Russia.
The Proton K / Breeze M combination lifted off from pad 24 of launch complex 81, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at the beginning of the launch window. Performance of the three-stage Proton K was nominal. The first task of the Breeze M was to complete the ascent trajectory and place itself and the Gorizont spacecraft into a circular parking orbit at approximately 200 km altitude. From there the Breeze M carried out a series of maneuvers, which resulted in the placement of the Gorizont spacecraft directly into its final geosynchronous orbit.
Khrunichev Space Center developed the Breeze M upper stage in order to further increase the size and weight of spacecraft that can be carried to high-energy orbits by the heavy-lift Proton launch vehicle. Development of the Breeze M began in 1994.
The new upper stage is of a compact design and consists of a central propulsion and avionics unit surrounded by an auxiliary propellant tank. The auxiliary tank can be jettisoned in flight following the depletion of its propellants. The main engine of the Breeze M and the stage’s attitude control thrusters all burn storable nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine fuel. The Breeze M’s digital flight control system, onboard telemetry, position determination and power systems are all located on the stage’s central core, within the spacecraft adapter load-bearing structure at the forward end of the stage. The Breeze M can carry spacecraft masses up to 5500 kilograms, with volumes more than 50 percent greater than can be carried by the previous version of the four-stage Proton. The Breeze M main engine can relight up to eight times in flight, and the stage has a maximum mission lifetime (in its standard configuration) of 24 hours. All of these features offer users of the Breeze M extraordinary capability and flexibility in mission design.
The launch of the Gorizont spacecraft was conducted for the Russian Space Communications Company under the auspices of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. The spacecraft was manufactured by the Applied Mechanics Production Association (NPO-PM), and will provide communications services within the Russian Federation. The first of the Gorizont satellite series was launched on December 19, 1978, and a third member of the spacecraft family was launched in 1980 to provide special coverage of the Olympic games held that year in Moscow.
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