DTV 12 Mission Successful!

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the DTV 12 satellite built by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems for DIRECTV. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 4:32 a.m. EST, or 09:32 GMT, 9 hours and 10 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.

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DTV 12 Stage Separations

We had a successful liftoff about 10 minutes ago of our Proton M Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the DTV 12 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.

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DTV 12 Third and Fourth Burn Completion

We have confirmed that the Breeze M upper stage has successfully completed its 3rd & 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 4:13 a.m. EST, or 09:13 GMT. Separation of the DTV 12 spacecraft is scheduled to follow the 5th burn completion by about 12 minutes.

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DTV 12 Second Burn Completion

As the Breeze M upper stage of our Proton M rocket continues its climb into space with the DTV 12 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 12 minutes; after that the additional propellant tank will be jettisoned, and the 4th burn will start and complete. All this will happen in a span of almost 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.

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DTV 12 First Burn Completion

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.

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Rockin’ the Joint (ops)

Joint operations started in earnest on 13 December when Boeing moved the DIRECTV 12 satellite into Hall 101 and mated the SC to the adapter. The next day, the SC/Adapter was mated to the Breeze-M and then encapsulated in the Payload Fairing (PLF) on 15 December. With much of the satellite-centric work completed, 19 Boeing personnel departed Baikonur to return home for the launch activities. We celebrated the encapsulation of the PLF by having a Spaghetti and Meatballs night, with the ILS Program Director providing the cooking. We are happy to report that all participants survived his first attempt at cooking in Baikonur!

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The End of the Beginning

Well, the SC is fueled, tested, verified, closed out and ready to go – a great job by the entire Boeing team. We start joint operations on Sunday, which means that we start assembling all the various parts of the integrated launch vehicle. The first part of this is to put the SC onto the Adapter and mechanically secure it using the KhSC-built Separation System. This is a long day, as you can image so we took some time out to have a BBQ sponsored by ILS and Boeing (Boeing provided the tri-tip and the cooking expertise, which was fantastic). The weather has turned colder, but we are avoiding any snow like that which has been plaguing much of the US recently. Today we also so the roll-out of the Proton with the Russian GLONASS satellites on board. Launch is on the 14th, and I for one am excited because even though I have launched many satellites on Proton, I have yet to watch one actually launch since I am usually working at that time.

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Fill Me Up, Buttercup

Well, back home in Virginia, they are experiencing their first snowfall of the season, and here at the Baikonur Cosmodrome it’s actually warmer and drier. We had a few flurries a few days back, but for the most part, it’s been warmer here than back at home. Go figure! KhSC continues to process all the Proton and Breeze-M hardware, preparing for our late December launch, and the Boeing team has been doing an outstanding job processing the satellite. All SC testing is now complete, and we are in the process of filling the SC with the two liquids it uses to fire engines and thrusters – Nitrogen Tetroxide and Mono-Methyl Hydrazine. Each of thee takes a full day, and we expect to be complete by next Tuesday. Stay tuned!

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