Proton-M delivers US communication satellite to orbit

A Proton-M heavy carrier rocket with the US television satellite EchoStar 14 onboard has been launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The launch was carried out without incident. At 06:36 Moscow time [03:36 GMT] the satellite undocked from upper-stage rocket Briz-M that delivered the satellite to its final geosynchronous orbit with an apogee of about 36,000 kilometers.

Control of the satellite has already been transferred to the customer. It will be delivering an HDTV signal to 14 million viewers in North America for the next 15 years.

The contract to launch the satellite was concluded between the Russian-US joint venture of International Launch Services (ILS) and the US telecommunications company EchoStar.

EchoStar 14 is the heaviest unit the Proton-M type rocket has ever taken into orbit.

This launch is the 42nd for the Proton-M carrier rocket and the fourth this year for a rocket of its type. Since 1957, in total 1328 rockets have gone beyond the atmosphere from Baikonur cosmodrome.