The launch of a Russian Proton-M heavy booster rocket with the Amazonas European communications satellite on board will take place at the Baikonur cosmodrome (leased by Russia in southern Kazakhstan) in the early hours of August 5. Alexander Bobrenev, an official spokesman of the Khrunichev Centre, spelled the news to RIA Novosti.
Amazonas was built by Europe's EADS Astrium company. It is a modification of the Eurostar 3000 spacecraft and is one of the most powerful satellites of the present day intended for digital television, radio and telephone communication, and broadband Internet access services.
The Amazonas satellite, which weighs 4,540 kg, will ensure the coverage of the South American continent and part of Western Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and France.
The contract for the launching services was signed by International Launch Services (ILS), a company that conducts market studies of Russia's Proton and the US' Atlas booster rockets available on the global market. The ILS incorporates the United States' Lockheed Martin and its Russian partners, the Khrunichev Centre and Energiya space rocket corporation.
The updated Proton-M that will place the European satellite into orbit boasts improved performance and environmental specifications.
A new digital flight control system has been installed on the booster and the first stages' fall area has been reduced.
The Proton's environmental specifications have been improved considerably. The first stage's engine is pre-programmed to deplete fuel completely from its tanks.
Enlarged nose cones will allow to more than double the booster rocket's payload and to use advanced upper stages. The Proton's Briz-M upper stage has a huge power potential and is fitted out with a multiple engine ignition system, which helps place satellites into a wide range of final orbits and even allow for group orbiting.