MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — An International Launch Services Proton rocket carried Northrop Grumman’s first satellite-servicing spacecraft and a communications satellite for Eutelsat to orbit Oct. 9.
Proton lifted off at 6:18 a.m. Eastern from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Its two passengers are scheduled to separate from the rocket almost 16 hours later in a supersynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch is ILS’ first of the year, and while Russia has launched multiple spacecraft on the same Proton before, it is the company’s first dual launch carrying two commercial satellites. Both spacecraft were built by Northrop Grumman — the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 for its subsidiary SpaceLogistics, and Eutelsat 5 West B for French operator Eutelsat Communications.
The start of commercial satellite servicing
Northrop Grumman has a contract with Intelsat to extend the life of Intelsat-901, an 18-year-old satellite, for five years.
The 2,330-kilogram MEV-1 will take up to three and a half months to reach geostationary orbit using its electric propulsion, Joe Anderson, SpaceLogistics’ vice president of operations and business development, said Oct. 1 during a Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations event. Once connected to Intelsat-901 in an inclined geosynchronous orbit, the combined stack ...