Proton launches Russian weather satellite

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WASHINGTON — The final Proton launch of the year lifted off Dec. 24 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, sending a Russian weather satellite into orbit. 

Proton lifted off at 7:03 a.m. Eastern with the Electro-L No. 3 satellite, according to Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos. The satellite separated from the four-stage rocket six hours and 37 minutes later. 

Five Proton rockets launched this year — four for the Russian government and one for International Launch Services, which sells commercial missions. 

ILS has no missions planned for next year. Jim Kramer, ILS’s chief technology officer, told SpaceNews by email that ILS’s parent company Khrunichev has three Proton missions and two Angara 5 missions planned for 2020. Angara 5 is Russia’s successor to Proton. 

The Electro-L No. 3 satellite is the third in a series of weather and environmental monitoring spacecraft for the Russian government. Russia launched the first Electro-L satellite in 2011 and a second in 2015. 

Roscosmos said Electro-L No. 3 will operate in geostationary orbit from the 165.5-degrees East orbital slot.