Friday, April 13, 2018

Russia to Launch Blagovest 12L Military Comsat on April 18

Blagovest 12L satellite on its way to Baikonur. Photo Credit: ISS Reshetnev

Russia is in final stage of preparations to launch its Proton-M rocket with Blagovest 12L military communications satellite on Wednesday, April 18. Liftoff is scheduled to take place at 22:12 GMT (6:12 p.m. EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The mission was originally planned to be conducted on December 25, 2017, but was delayed several times by Russia. However, Moscow has not disclosed what was behind these reschedules.

Little is known about the launch and pre-launch preparations due to the military nature of the mission. ISS Reshetnev, the manufacturer of the Blagovest satellite, informed only in early March about the shipment of the satellite to Baikonur.

“The Blagovest No.12 satellite, accompanied by ISS Reshetnev specialists, made its journey to the cosmodrome to begin final preparations for launch. All the necessary operations and check-outs are due to begin soon,” the company wrote in a press release.

Blagovest 12L is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite designed for high-speed data transmission. It is based on ISS Reshetnev’s Express 2000 satellite platform, which is capable of hosting payloads up to one metric ton. The bus offers three-axis stabilization, precise station-keeping capabilities and can combine chemical and electric propulsion systems.

Equipped in two deployable solar arrays, Blagovest 12L hosts a high-throughput payload provided by Thales Alenia Space, operating in the Ka-Band frequency (26.5–40 GHz) and the Q-Band Extremely High-Frequency Range of 33 to 50 GHz. This makes it one of the first satellites to operationally use Q-Band communications supporting higher bandwidths.

Blagovest 12L is intended to deliver high-speed internet access, communications services, television and radio broadcasting, as well as telephony and video conferencing, for a designed lifetime of 15 years. It will reside in a geosynchronous orbit.

Blagovest 12L is one of the four satellites in the series planned to be operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces. The first Blagovest spacecraft (11L) was launched on August 17, 2017. According to TASS news agency, Russia’s Defense Ministry plans orbit the remaining two satellites (13L and 14L) by 2020.

The 190-foot tall (58-meter) Proton-M booster, which will be employed to deliver Blagovest 12L into space, measures some 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) in diameter along its second and third stages, with a first stage that has a diameter of 24.3 feet (7.4 meters). The total overall height of the Proton rocket’s three stages is about 138.8 feet (42.3 meters).

In order to deploy Blagovest 12L, the Proton-M rocket will fly in configuration with the Briz-M upper stage, which is powered by a pump-fed gimbaled main engine. This stage is composed of a central core and an auxiliary propellant tank that is jettisoned in flight after the depletion of the stage’s fuel. The Briz-M control system includes an onboard computer, a three-axis gyro stabilized platform, and a navigation system.

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