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February 15, 2014

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the TURKSAT-4A satellite built by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, (MELCO). We have confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 1:22 a.m. EST, or 12:22 GMT, approximately 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.

February 14, 2014

We have confirmed that the Breeze M upper stage has successfully completed its 3rd and 4th burn, 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 1:00 a.m. EDT, or 06:00 GMT and last approximately 9 minutes. Separation of the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft is scheduled to follow the 5th burn completion by about 13 minutes.

February 14, 2014

As the Breeze M upper stage of our ILS Proton M rocket continues its climb into space with the TURKSAT-4A 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 about 15 minutes; after that the additional propellant tank will be jettisoned, and the 4th burn will start. All this will happen in a span of about 20 minutes while the vehicle is again out of range of a ground station. We should reacquire the vehicle shortly after the 4th burn ends.

February 14, 2014

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.

February 14, 2014

We had a successful liftoff about 9 minutes ago of our ILS Proton M Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the TURKSAT-4A 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 and a half minutes.

February 14, 2014

We have liftoff! of the ILS Proton M Breeze M rocket and the TURKSAT-4A satellite.

February 14, 2014

Today is the day!  In approximately T-5 hours the ILS Proton is scheduled to lift off with the TURKSAT-4A satellite. Approval to prepare the launch vehicle has been given and the mission teams are moving into their secure locations. Go Proton!   

February 13, 2014

Today, the ILS Proton stands vertical at Launch Pad 24.  With the assistance of the enormous mobile service tower final checks are being made to the Proton rocket.  TURKSAT-4A is safely enclosed and its environment is constantly monitored.   Tests will continue followed by the launch countdown rehearsal and the State Commission to approve the go for launch.  With just over a day to go, the anticipation is building!

February 11, 2014

Today, aside from liftoff, is by far the most spectacular sight.  Watching as the Proton rolls to the launch pad and is made vertical is always impressive.  It has taken an enormous amount of effort by the mission teams to get to this point.  The campaign is in single digits as we await the launch of TURKSAT-4A!

rollout to launch pad

Vertical

February 10, 2014

On a very cold February 9th, at approximately 8:00am, the Proton rocket with TURKSAT-4A left Hall 111 via railcar heading for the Breeze M fueling station.  After two days, fueling is now complete and rollout to Launch Pad 24 will take place tomorrow.  Some team members took the opportunity to visit the Gagarin Museum today.  The museum is located within the Baikonur Cosmodrome and houses many artifacts including a Sputnik model, Yuri Gagarin’s uniform as well as a Russian Buran Space Shuttle replica.   

rollout to fueling

Breeze M fueling

February 6, 2014

Last night a large group witnessed the spectacular Soyuz launch watching as pitch black instantly turned to apparent daylight.  It was quite an exciting event!  And today an equally spectacular sight was the TURKSAT-4A AU mating to the Proton rocket to form the integrated launch vehicle or ILV.  After weeks of preparation the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft finally made its way by railcar to Hall 111 for integration.  We are getting closer to liftoff!

February 5, 2014

With the TURKSAT-4A satellite fully encapsulated by the 2 payload fairing halves, the teams took the opportunity to sign the company logos.  This is always a grand event as team members can write a message to loved ones back home, are able to thank colleagues for their efforts up to this point or just sign their name to an object that will travel into space!  Also occurring tonight is an unmanned Soyuz launch.  A group will take the trip to view the launch. 

February 4, 2014

Today we woke to find the trees had gotten a fresh coat of frost overnight, temporarily restoring beauty to our barren landscape.  Indoors, the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft was mated to the Breeze M upper stage and made horizontal in the tilter.  The entire unit was then encapsulated by the payload fairing and is now referred to the Ascent Unit (AU).  This stage also marks the last work day for several MELCO team members as their satellite is now safely encapsulated.  The next event on the launch campaign is for the AU to be transported to Hall 111 for mating to the Proton rocket.   

TURKSAT-4A PLF

January 28, 2014

It is hard to believe we have been here in Baikonur for only two weeks as so much has been accomplished.  It is not by chance, as launch campaigns are well planned down to the detailed daily activities. Turksat-4A processing is right on schedule with many operations taking place over the past few days.  The Breeze M underwent 2 days of high-pressure loading and has returned to Building 92A-50 awaiting Joint Operations to begin.  The Proton remains in Hall 111 as testing continues.  And the Turksat-4A spacecraft has continued its preparations including oxidizer loading and will soon be fueled.

 

January 20, 2014

Over the weekend various planned testing and operations continued in preparation for the launch of the TURKSAT-4A satellite. The Breeze M was transported to Area 141 today, where it will undergo fueling.  The customer enjoyed seeing their Breeze M, appreciating the clear blue skies as the backdrop. Also taking place today was a tour of Hall 111.  This allowed the teams the opportunity to see the Proton hardware up close, which is always an impressive site.

January 18, 2014

While the launch teams work very long hours and do not take weekends off, there was a chance to come together for a BBQ on Saturday night.  With TURKSAT, MELCO and the MEXSAT site visit team joining us as well as all of the various satellite contractors it made for a truly International event.  Many thanks to the ILS site visit team for planning and executing a wonderful evening! While the primary focus during a launch campaign in Baikonur is for a successful mission it is always nice to interact with the customer and manufacturer outside of the processing halls.  A certain camaraderie is usually forged despite the language and cultural differences.  

January 17, 2014

Today the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft landed in Baikonur at Yubileiny Airport.  The team spent a frigid day managing the spacecraft and equipment offload from the Antonov aircraft. It is a slow and careful process to maneuver the spacecraft container from the Antonov to the railcar.  The railcar with the spacecraft is now headed to Building 92A-50 and will begin processing.  It should be mentioned that with the TURKSAT-4A arrival a new milestone has been met in Baikonur as this is the first satellite manufactured by MELCO to be launched on ILS Proton.  We welcome MELCO and look forward to working with them on this campaign.

January 17, 2014

Today’s activities included unpacking and inspection of the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft (SC) from its shipping container in Hall 101.  Later tonight the SC will be moved to Hall 103A where it will begin testing.  Concurrently, operations with the Proton launch vehicle and the Breeze M are proceeding nominally in Hall 111 and Hall 101 respectively.
Today we also welcomed the visiting members from the Secretary of Communications and Transportation of Mexico, MEXSAT, for a site visit of Baikonur.  Similar to TURKSAT and MELCO, MEXSAT is a first time ILS customer.  ILS is very proud to host new customers and eager to show MEXSAT the Baikonur Cosmodrome facilities.
 

January 15, 2014

With the main team arrival on January 13th, the launch campaign for TURKSAT-4A has officially begun. It was a wintery landing but all personnel and their luggage along with equipment landed safely!  The Proton, Breeze M, Payload Fairing and other hardware necessary for the launch are in various processing halls undergoing tests in preparation for the launch.  The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive by Antonov on January 16th.  Until then we will be getting reacquainted with the facilities and equipment.
 

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