PARIS — An( ) Proton rocket March 26 successfully placed the 22 telecommunications satellite — equipped with a UHF payload for the Australian and U.S. militaries in addition to C- and Ku-band capacity — into a supersynchronous transfer orbit that ILS said would save on fuel.
“[T]he net result of using this mission design is that the Proton Breeze M is able to provide an additional 200 kilograms of performance, resulting in a capability of 6,350 kilograms to a 1,500-meters-per-second transfer orbit,” ILS said in a March 26 statement. “This additional capability can be used by the customer to either design a larger spacecraft, provide additional spacecraft maneuvering lifetime or any combination of the two.”
Operating from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Proton rocket, equipped with a Breeze M upper stage, dropped the 6,199-kilogram Intelsat 22 into a transfer orbit whose apogee was 65,000 kilometers over the equator.
From there the satellite will eventually make its way to a circular geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator.
It was the first launch of this type for a Proton rocket, according to Reston, Va.-based ILS.
In addition to its UHF payload, whose capacity was sold to the Australian Defence Force — which in turn sold part of the capacity to the U.S. Department of Defense — Intelsat 22 carries a C- and Ku-band payload for commercial telecommunications customers in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The satellite, built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, Calif., will replace the Intelsat 709 at 72 degrees east longitude. Luxembourg- and Washington-based Intelsat said Intelsat 22 is expected to operate for 18 years. It is the first of Boeing’s new 702MP satellites to be placed into orbit. Intelsat is the inaugural customer for the platform and has purchased four of them.
Intelsat hopes that its contract with the Australian military will further demonstrate to military forces — in particular the U.S. Department of Defense — that hiring commercial satellite fleet operators to host military payloads is less expensive and less time-consuming than building dedicated military spacecraft.
In a post-launch statement, Intelsat Chief Executive David McGlade said the UHF payload is being delivered on time and within budget to the Australian military. Boeing is building a similar satellite for Intelsat, called Intelsat 27, which is scheduled for launch by early 2013. Intelsat ordered Boeing to include a UHF payload on Intelsat 27 despite the fact that, unlike the case with Intelsat 22, it did not have a military customer lined up before the satellite’s construction began.
Intelsat continues to hunt for a willing government customer for this payload. McGlade has said repeatedly that, in the coming years, almost every Intelsat satellite should carry a government payload in addition to its commercial mission.