Featured image credit: ROSCOSMOS/Yuzhny Space Center
Lift Off Time/Launch Window
|February 05, 2022 – 09:12:52 UTC | 12:12:52 MSK|
|Khrunichev State Research And Production Space Center|
|Proton-M / Blok DM-03|
|Launch Complex 81/24, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Tyuratam, Kazakhstan|
|3,000 kg (~6600 lb)|
Where is the satellite going?
|Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), 166° East|
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
|No, this is not a capability of Proton|
Where will the first stage land?
|It will crash into the steppes of Kazakhstan|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|No, this is not a capability of Proton|
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
This will be the:
|– 4th satellite in the Elektro-L series|
– 7th launch of the Proton-M/Blok DM-03
– 428th launch of a Proton rocket (any variant)
– 18th orbital launch for 2023
Where to watch
|If available, an official livestream will be listed here|
What Does All This Mean?
On February 5, Roscosmos is launching the 4th satellite in the Elektro-L series to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. It is launching on board a Proton-M rocket with a Blok DM-03 upper stage, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
What Is Elektro-L No. 4?
This is the 4th satellite in the current series of Elektro-L weather satellites. The first of these, Elektro-L No. 1 was launched in 2011. The Elektro-L satellites are designed to provide complete coverage of the Earth, operating at Geostationary Earth Orbit.
|Satellite||Launch date||Launch Vehicle||Orbital position||Current Status|
|Elektro-L No. 1||2011 Jan 20||Zenit/Fregat-SB||29.6° West||Inactive|
|Elektro-L No. 2||2015 Dec 11||Zenit/Fregat-SB||14.5° W (formerly 76° East)||Operational|
|Elektro-L No. 3||2019 Dec 24||Proton-M/Blok DM-03||76° East||Operational|
|Elektro-L No. 4||Feb 2023 (planned)||Proton-M/Blok DM-03||166° East||Awaiting launch|
The Elektro-L series is the successor to the original Elektro satellites that date back to the 1980s. The “L” designation on the current series denotes that the new design was developed by NPO Lavochkin.
The main instrument on board the satellite is a multi-spectral scanner called MSU-GS, which operates in both visible and infrared ranges, with a 20 degree field of view. This is designed to provide resolutions of 1 km (visible) and 4 km (infrared).
|DCS||Data Collection Service||Transponder of messages from self-timed Data Collection Platforms|
|GEOS&R||Geostationary Search and Rescue||Transponder of signals from ground-based beacons transmitting help message and location at 406 MHz|
|MSU-GS||Elektro-L Imager||Multi-purpose imagery and wind derivation by tracking clouds and water vapor features over 10 wavelength ranges|
|GGAK-E/SKIF-6||Corpuscular radiation spectrometer||Spectrometer for differential energy measurement of electrons and protons in the range 0.05-20.0 keV|
|GGAK-E/GALS-E||Detector of galactic cosmic rays||Three channels measuring for flux density of protons of energies > 600 MeV, > 800 MeV and > 1200 MeV|
|GGAK-E/ISP-2M||Solar constant sensor||Measuring integral radiance of the Sun, in the 0.2-100 µm range|
|GGAK-E/VUSS-E||Solar UV radiation sensor||Fluxmeter to measure the intensity at 121.6 nm (H Lyman alpha-line)|
|GGAK-E/FM-E||Magnetometer instrument||Digital magnetometer to measure the three components of the magnetic induction vector in the range ±0.01 to ±600 nT|
|GGAK-E/DIR-E||Solar X-ray radiation flux sensor||X-ray counter for the range 3.0-10.0 keV, measurement at 1 s intervals|
|GGAK-E/SKL-E||Solar cosmic rays spectrometer||Spectrometer for energy fluxes in the ranges 0.2-20 MeV (electrons) and 3.5-320 MeV (protons)|
What Is Proton-M?
Proton-M is a multi-use heavy-lift launch vehicle that first flew on April 7, 2001. It is capable to launch civilian and military satellites, as well as cargo missions to the ISS. This launch vehicle was developed and is manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. Over the decades, several variants of the Proton rocket have been developed and flown over 400 times.
Compared to its ancestor, Proton-K, the Proton-M rocket has a new control system that not only enhances its power performance, but also improves its operational and environmental characteristics. For instance, it makes the utilization of propellants more efficient. It ensures that almost all fuel on the first stage of Proton-M burns up completely during ascent and the rocket crashes on land with empty tanks, which prevents contamination of the area.
The new system also provides a more controlled landing of the first stage. This has two benefits: easier debris recovery and reduced rent payment (the Baikonur Cosmodrome is located in Kazakhstan, where Russia leases the land). Moreover, it has larger payload fairings, which more than doubles the available space for payloads.
The rocket consists of four stages, all of which are expendable. Proton-M is about 58.2 meters (191 ft) in height and 7.4 meters (24 feet) in diameter. The vehicle’s total lift-off mass is approximately 705,000 kg (1,554,000 lb). The rocket’s payload lift capacity to low-Earth orbit (LEO) is 22,400 kg (49383 lb).
|First Stage||Second Stage||Third Stage||Fourth Stage|
|Engine(s)||6 x RD-276||3 x RD-0210 and 1 x RD-0211||RD-0213 and RD-0214||RD-58M|
|Total Thrust (kN / lbf)||10,032 / 2,255,283 |
|2,354 / 529,200|
|572 / 128,590|
|86.24 / 19,390 (vacuum)|
|Specific Impulse (s)||288 (sea level)|
|320 (sea level)|
|325 (vacuum)||362 (vacuum)|
|Burn time (s)||121||211||258||680|
The first stage (21.2 m in length) consists of a central cylindrical part, which is an oxidizer tank, and six side fuel tanks, each one of which carries an RD-276 engine. Unlike the four side-boosters on Soyuz 2 rockets, the ones on Proton-M are not detachable.
One interesting fact about the Proton-M rocket is that its design was greatly affected by the logistics. For example, the diameter of its oxidizer tank is the maximum that can be delivered to the pad by rail.
The RD-276 engine runs on a hypergolic propellant that uses dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as an oxidizer and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH, (CH₃)₂N₂H₂) as a fuel. Each one of these engines has one combustion chamber and together they are capable of producing a thrust of 10,032 kN (2,255,283 lbf) at sea level, with an ISP of 288 s at sea level and 316 s in a vacuum. A burn time of this stage is ∼121 s. The RD-276 engines can control thrust vector by swiveling tangentially up to 7° from their neutral position.
The second stage is 17.1 m long and is powered by three RD-0210 engines and one RD-0211 engine. The engines on this stage start their ignition sequence prior to stage separation. This process is called “hot fire staging”. That is why the second stage is joined to the first one through an interstage with a lattice structure and not through a closed one. This design allows the exhaust to escape and also reduces the mass of the interstage. Each one of these engines has one combustion chamber, runs on UDMH and N2O4, and burns for 211 s. A total thrust produced by this stage is 2,354 kN (529,200 lbf) with an ISP of 320 s at sea level.
Like the other two stages, the third one operates on UDMH and N2O4. It is 4.1 m long and is powered by one RD-0213 engine, and one RD-0214 engine. Together, these are known as an RD-0212 propulsion module. The RD-0213 engine has one combustion chamber and burns for 241 s, while the RD-0214 has four combustion chambers, and a burn time of 258.3 s. The ISP of this stage is 325 s in vacuum and its total thrust is 572 kN (128,590 lbf).
This particular launch will utilize the Blok DM-03 upper stage. This should not be confused with the Blok DM-3 stage used on the Proton K rocket. This will be only the seventh launch of the Blok DM-03. The stage is powered by a single RD-58M engine which burns RP-1 and LOX propellant.
The first flight of the Blok DM-03 was in 2010. As well as the Proton-M, it is also used on the Angara A5 rocket.
Rocket section adapted from Mariia Kiseleva.