Powerful communication satellite launches from Kazakhstan

The Russian carrier Proton-M has launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, taking a multifunctional satellite into orbit in a bid to broaden telecommunications for Russia and the CIS countries. Hours later, contact with the satellite was lost.

As the process of placing the satellite in orbit reached its final stage, the rocket and the cargo stopped sending flight info. The US NORAD radar system detected an object that is thought to be the fuel tank for the transfer orbit stage but no trace of the lost satellite has been detected in the area.

Thursday’s launch was organized in collaboration with the European company EADS Astrium.  The “Express” satellite is one of the biggest and most powerful of its kind and carries 12 aerials that may be controlled from the ground for more effective functioning.

“Express” will operate in a geo-stationary orbit, meaning it is positioned at a fixed point and will rotate with the Earth, appearing motionless to observers on the ground. It weights is around 5.8 tons and has a working life of 15 years. 

It is the third launch of a Proton-M rocket in 2011 and 366th in the history of this type of carrier.