Russia’s Proton rocket with the high-power Express-AM4 satellite was launched early on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
The launch took place at 1:25 a.m. Moscow time, as scheduled.
Russian Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev said the satellite’s parameters were “outstanding not only for Russia, but for the whole world.”
The satellite, weighting almost 5.8 metric tons, was designed and built jointly by Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Center and Astrium, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). It is to be placed in Russia’s key orbital position of 80E.
The Express-AM4 will be equipped with 63 transponders operating in C-, Ku-, Ka and L-bands. The craft’s ten antennas will provide high performance coverage over the Russian Federation and CIS countries.
Among other tasks, it will provide digital TV services to Russia’s Far East. The Express-AM4 will also become the first spacecraft to be used in the presidential program to provide satellite broadband Web access in Russian regions.
By 2013 Russia plans to boost its satellite grouping with six more satellites, including Express-AM4, Express-AM5 and Express-AM6.
The Express-AM4 is based on Astrium’s proven Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 14kW payload power.
The Eurostar E3000 is flight-qualified and has been used to build satellites for leading international operators of fixed and mobile satellite communications, such as Inmarsat-4F1 and 4F2, Hot Bird 8, Eutelsat W3A, Intelsat 10-02 and many others.
The steerable antennas can be used to provide communication to any point within the satellite’s visibility. The guaranteed active orbital life of Express-AM4 will be 15 years.