Russia’s Proton-M rocket will launch the Yamal 601 communications satellite for Gazprom Space Systems Thursday. Proton is due to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 22:42 local time (17:42 UTC), beginning a nine-hour, thirteen-minute mission that will send Yamal on its way to geostationary orbit.
Yamal 601 is Russia’s most powerful telecommunications satellite. It will be operated by Gazprom Space Systems, a subsidiary of the Russian oil and gas conglomerate as part of its fleet of Yamal satellites. These spacecraft are used in part to support Gazprom’s own operations; however they are also heavily used for broadcasting. The Yamal 601 satellite falls under the Department of Television and Radio Broadcasting’s Federal Target Program.
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Gazprom Space Systems was formed as Gazkom in 1992 to support Gazprom’s activities in the Northern regions of Russia. Its first two satellites – Yamal 101 and 102 – were deployed in a dual launch using a Proton-K/DM-2M rocket in September 1999, although Yamal 101 suffered an electrical failure shortly after launch.
To increase capacity, two additional satellites were carried to orbit by another dual launch in 2003. Yamal 201 was positioned ...