On Saturday, the heavy-class Proton-M booster rocket with the Briz-M booster unit was launched for the first time from the Baikonur cosmodrome. RIA Novosti was informed of this by the Space Flight Control Centre (TsUP). The Proton-M modernised Russian booster rocket, which is more powerful than the previous Proton booster, will put the Ekran-M telecommunications satellite into a geostationary orbit. The satellite will ensure direct broadcasting of Central TV programmes to the Siberian and Far Eastern regions of Russia. Both the rocket and the booster unit were designed and built at the Khrunichev design and production centre.
Before the rocket was launched, it passed through a complete cycle of comprehensive tests. For this purpose, a technical complex was put into operation on the cosmodrome, as well as a universal launching complex specially equipped for the said rocket and capable of ensuring launches of both the Proton rocket and the Proton-M booster.
The Khrunichev centre informed RIA Novosti that the Proton-M rocket, apart from being capable of putting heavier space apparatuses in space (weighing up to 6.8 tons, as against the previous figure of up to 3.5 tons), is superior to the Proton rocket as regards its power, ecological and exploitation characteristics. In particular, the share of the ecologically clean component - the oxyhydrogen mix - is higher in its fuel.