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May 21, 2011

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying theTelstar 14R/Estrela do Sul 2 satellite built by Space Systems/ Loral. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 00:28 EDT, or 04:28 UTC, 9 hours and 13 minutes after liftoff. Everything occurred as planned with ignition, shutdown and separation of the Proton's first three stages. Then the Breeze M upper stage with the satellite continued the mission, igniting five times, and then releasing the satellite into transfer orbit.

May 20, 2011

We have confirmed that the Breeze M Upper Stage has successfully completed its 3rd and 4th burns, as well as jettisoning its additional propellant tank. The vehicle is now in a 5-hour coast period, during which we will have nothing to report. The 5th burn is scheduled to start around 00:06 EDT, or 04:06 GMT and burn approximately 9 minutes. Separation of the Telstar 14R spacecraft is scheduled to follow the 5th burn completion by about 13 minutes.

May 20, 2011

As the Breeze M Upper Stage of the ILS Proton rocket continues its climb into space with the Telstar 14R/ Estrela do Sul 2 satellite, we have received confirmation that the 2nd burn of the upper stage occurred and shut down as scheduled.

The next events are scheduled for about 2 hours from now. The Breeze M upper stage will ignite for a 3rd time and burn for approximately 14 minutes; after that the additional propellant tank will be jettisoned and then the 4th burn will begin and burn for approximately 3 minutes. All this will happen while the vehicle is again out of range of a ground station. We should reacquire the vehicle shortly after the 4th burn is complete.

May 20, 2011

We have received confirmation of completion of the first burn. The vehicle is now scheduled to be out of range for about an hour, after which we will hear confirmation of the second burn

May 20, 2011

We had a successful liftoff about 10 minutes ago of the ILS Proton M Breeze M rocket, which is carrying theTelstar 14R/ Estrela do Sul 2 satellite. The three stages of the Proton vehicle have performed as planned, and it is up to the Breeze M upper stage to complete the mission. The upper stage has begun its first burn, which is scheduled to last around 4 minutes.

May 20, 2011

We have liftoff! of the ILS Proton Breeze M rocket and the Telstar 14R satellite.

May 9, 2011

Well, joint operations continue without incident.  The spacecraft is mounted to the Breeze M, encapsulation is complete, and the electrical teams are performing their joint checkouts.  But it is May 9, and this is one of the most memorialized days in Russian History.  It is Victory Day, the day that marks the end of World War II.  And just as Memorial Day is in America, this is a day of celebrating the veterans of the war, and in particular, the many who were lost.  And what an honor to be a part of this day with our Russian friends and colleagues. 

For those who don’t know, at the entrance to Area 95 in Baikonur is The World War II Monument, depicting a soldier pointing to the west, the direction of the major Russian allies during the war.  In the late afternoon, nearly the entire campaign team gathered for a walk  (a parade) from the Fili hotel down to the Monument.  It is customary to lay flowers at the monument as a memorial.  And this parade was no different.  Led by the Director of Operations in Baikonur, we walked to the monument to lay down our floral offerings.  Many people made this same trip over the course of the day, as people were coming and going over the entire afternoon.  It was quite an emotional event for many of the parade goers. 

After many shouts of “sprahzneecoom” (victory congratulations), we were back to the Fili hotel for a Victory Day celebration at the pavilion.  And once again, short of having a swimming pool and fireworks, it was as if we were back home.  The grill was hot for hours and everyone enjoyed the event. 


Victory Day Parading


Victory Day Group Shot

Laying Flowers

 Let them eat Cake!

May 8, 2011

Didn’t we just get here?  But all of a sudden, we are deep into joint operations.  With the spacecraft (SC) move to Hall 101, all teams have begun the task of finalizing the ascent unit.   As scheduled, the SC was moved to Hall 101 and prepared for lifting onto the Breeze M.  After some electrical checkouts, all eyes were on the Khrunichev (KhSC) tilter unit, awaiting the ever exciting rotation to horizontal.  Watching thousands of pounds of flight hardware being rotated from an upright position, to a horizontal one is always a thrill.  And very few people get to witness this move, as Proton is the only launch vehicle in the world that assembles horizontally.  The coordinated schedule allows for both Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) and KhSC to perform electrical and mechanical closeouts of their respective hardware.  This includes removal of non-flight hardware, and final pre-encapsulation electrical checks.  This positioning of the orbital unit also allows for relatively easy installation of the payload fairing, which is our next important milestone.  

So, regarding the first comment, how it seems like we just got here, we started at L – 31.  But right now, we are sitting at L – 12.  Time sure flies when you are having fun!

Lifted for Mounting


Ascent Unit



May 6, 2011

The week of standalone operations has quickly drawn to a close. The propellant (prop) team has methodically and flawlessly completed the critical operation of fueling the spacecraft (SC). The three day operation, as has been the case on this campaign since our arrival, was completed ahead of schedule. Touch (knock) wood, as our Russian friends like to say. This milestone also signifies the preparations for joint operations. All SC electrical testing was completed, and final pre-launch closeouts and inspections are underway. The spacecraft was then lifted onto the transporter for the short journey from Hall 103A to Hall 101.  And in following a launch campaigns superstitious tradition, the prop load was followed by a gathering of all the propellant specialists from both teams for a post load celebration BBQ.

Meanwhile, on the Khrunichev side of things, the Breeze M has returned to Building 92A-50 after a couple of days at area 31 for high pressure fuel loading. It will be installed on the tilt over fixture in preparation for the installation of the SC. The payload adapter sits waiting, as does the separation system.  Our friends from RUAG will arrive this week to prepare for installation of the separation system, which also sits waiting.  The payload fairing is ready for installation as well. The launch vehicle sits in Hall 111 undergoing its final preparations as well.  

So its L – 15, and things continue to run like clockwork. Touch wood.

May 3, 2011

The Telstar 14R launch campaign continues here in Baikonur.  And the words we like to hear are “on schedule” and “nominal."  Hall 103A has been very busy as the Loral team has been completing their pre-launch check list of operations.  Spacecraft electrical health checks were completed and preparations were made for the hazardous operation of fueling the SC.  So to perform this task, Loral brought in: “The Prop Team."  This is a very seasoned group of specialists, as they have been on many SSL campaigns here in Baikonur over the last year or so.  We are in good hands.  As for the launch vehicle, operations continue on schedule as well.  The Breeze M is in Area 31 for high pressure fuel loading, and the payload fairing and adapter systems are just waiting for joint operations.  The launch vehicle itself is in the cradle going thru its final electrical checkouts in Hall 111.  And just to give you a bit of perspective on the size of Hall 111, there are three full launch vehicles being processed at this time.  Incredible.  Next up:  Joint operations!

And just so you don’t think we are all work and no play, we all boarded the bus and drove out to Area 31 for the most recent Progress Launch, a cargo trip to the ISS aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle.  And as always, an incredible sight.  We also had our Hawaiian BBQ, complete with pineapples, and our burgers and dogs night very recently.  And as is a tradition here, we will celebrate the post SC fueling operations.  This time, on 5 May, Cinco de mayo.  Can you say Mexican BBQ?

Hawaiian BBQ



Telstar 14R Group at BBQ

ILS at Soyuz Launch

Customer and Baikonur School Kids

Soyuz Launch

Soyuz Launch

April 23, 2011

Well, the inaugural launch campaign of 2011 has begun and its spring time in Baikonur.  The main team arrived at Baikonur Cosmodrome on Sunday, followed by the remainder of the Khrunichev team arriving on Tuesday, and everyone is here to get the campaign underway.  With the launch of the Telstar 14R\Estrela do Sul 2 satellite only a few weeks away, everyone is in work mode.  With the on-time arrival of the spacecraft, Wednesday at 10:00 am, all necessary hardware is now in building 92A-50.  The launch vehicle is sitting in Hall 111 undergoing final checkouts and the spacecraft has been transferred to Hall 103A for electrical health checks and the various other stand alone operations scheduled.  And after this first hectic week of preparations and equipment moves, everyone is settling in to the choreographed schedule of launch operations.  As it is a special holiday weekend around the world, many of the team will gather together for a special celebration dinner on Saturday night.  Happy Easter from Baikonur!

Telstar 14R Mission Easter Basket

April 19, 2011

Welcome to the 1st ILS Proton launch campaign of 2011 – the commercial launch of the Space Systems/Loral-built, Telstar 14R/Estrela do Sul 2 satellite for Telesat. Follow along with the mission team as they prepare for the launch.

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