A Proton M Breeze M launch vehicle successfully launched two Express communications satelllites for a state owned Russian company at 2308 GMT from the Baikonur launch site, near Tyuratam, Kazakhstan on 15 March 2014. The Express AT1 and AT2 carried were built by the Russian spacecraft maker, ISS Reshetnev, using the firm’s Express 1000N and Express 1000K bus designs respectively and will be operated by the state-owned communications firm, the Russian Satellite Communications Company. The 1726kg Express AT1 is carrying a communications payload built by the European firm, Thales Alenia Space, consisting of 32 Ku-band transponders and will be positioned in a Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) slot at 56 degrees East over the equator. Its smaller sister spacecraft, the 1427kg Express AT2 carries only 16 Ku-band transponders in a communications payload also built by Thales Alenia Space. Express AT2 will be located in GEO over 140 degrees East. Both spacecraft are designed to operate for a 15 year minimum lifespan.
Artist’s impression of Express AT1 satellite Courtesy: Roscosmos