BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Oct. 17, 2002 – A Russian-built Proton-K/Block DM2 launch vehicle successfully placed the European Space Agency's Integral spacecraft into orbit this morning. The purpose of the Integral mission is to study space gamma-rays using high-accuracy in-orbit equipment and conduct observations in the gamma and x-ray band and visible spectrum.

This was the sixth mission this year for the Proton, and the 26th consecutive successful flight in 2+ years. The vehicle lifted off from Baikonur at 10:41 a.m. Wednesday local time (8:41 a.m. Moscow, 0441 GMT); separation of the satellite and launch vehicle occurred about an hour and a half later, at 2:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. Baikonur, 06:14 GMT).

The Proton launch vehicle injected the Integral spacecraft into a highly elliptical transfer orbit of 685 km by 153,000 km (426 mi x 95,070 mi), which no other existing launch vehicle is able to reach. Integral will use its own propulsion system to reach its operating orbit of 9,000 km by 155,000 km (5,592 mi x 96,313 mi).

Of Proton's six missions this year, this was the third conducted under the Russian Federal Program. Three also have been conducted under the auspices of International Launch Services (ILS), the joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. of the United States and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Proton and the American Atlas rockets.

ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with products with the highest reliability in the industry. ILS� Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. The Proton vehicle is assembled by Khrunichev at its plant near Moscow. The Block DM upper stage is built by Energia, also near Moscow.


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