Half a year ago the second Kazakhstan telecommunications satellite “KazSat-2″ was launched from site #200 of Baikonur with help of a launch vehicle “Proton-2″. What has been happening to the satellite all this time? In what condition is it now? How and from where is it controlled?
On 12nd of July 2011 the heaviest space mission vehicle “Proton-M” was taken to the launching site. It can be launched only from “Baikonur”. Only here exists the required infrastructure for its maintenance. The producer of the vehicle guarantees it will serve not less than 12 years. The launch was delayed three times and the vehicle was each time updated.
It took 3 hours to deliver the vehicle with power service and thermostatic systems on. The speed of the special consist was 5-7 km/h. Specially trained operators served the consist. Even the smallest extra load may damage the satellite. As opposed to “KazSat-1″ this vehicle became more power-consuming. Its cost amounted to 115 million dollars. The first vehicle KazSat-1 cost 65 millions.
Local steppe onlookers
Dimensions and abilities of the vehicle are impressive indeed. Its length is 58,2 m, mass of the prepacked vehicle – 705 t. At the start power of 6 motors of the launch vehicle primary stage is 600 t. It allows to put 25 tons objects to near-Earth orbit and 5 tons objects to geostationary orbit (30 thousand over the Earth surface). That’s why “Proton-M” is irreplaceable when the question is about telecommunications satellite launch.
There are 4 start positions for “Proton” at the cosmodrome now. Though only 2 of them are operable.
The orbital position for the second “KazSat” has become more convenient for work.
Sunsets over the cosmodrome “Baikonur” are exceptionally technological!
The vehicle is filled up 6 hours before the start. Since this moment all operations become irreversible.
What are the benefits for the country in possessing its own communications satellite? First of all – it’s the resolution of the problem of information support in Kazakhstan. The satellite may widen the range of information services for all the population of the country. It includes services of e-government, internet and mobile connection. And what’s even more important – the Kazakhstan satellite will allow to partially refuse services of foreign companies telecommunications companies. It’s the matter of dozens million dollars that will stay in the country.
Various modifications of the launch vehicle “Proton” have been used since 1967. We can assert that all impressive Soviet projects of space development and research of solar system objects would not be possible without this vehicle. Besides, “Proton” is exceptionally reliable for the vehicles of such kind, for all the period of its use only 44 launches out of 370 were unsuccessful.
The main disadvantage of “Proton” are highly toxic fuel components. Though “Proton-M” is provided with the digital control system and the system of unburnt remaining fuel removal in the upper ionosphere. Besides, they are working on an ecologically safe launch vehicle “Angara” whose fuel components will be kerosene and oxygen. This project will have to replace “Proton-M” in future.
Today most of the American satellites are launched by “Proton-M” from the cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe. American SES-3 (belonging to the company SESWORLD SKIES) is one of the many launched from “Baikonur”.
Three flags: Russian, American and the flag of Kazakhstan, are placed on the vehicle.
16th July 2011, 5 hours 16 minutes and 10 seconds in the morning. Culmination. Luckily everything goes smoothly.
In 3 months after the launch. Young specialists who control “KazSat-2″.
The Akmola region. This small district center had been almost unknown till 2006, the year when they built the first in-orbit satellites launch control center.
After the loss of the first satellite in 2008 in the Akkolsky Space Communication Centre they have made a serious upgrade. Today it allows to control two vehicles.
On the picture above: the stand of the command measuring system from an American company Vertex.
Head of the Mission Control Centre at his working place. Today many young specialists work here, after the loss of the 1st satellite in 2008 the situation was much worse, many professionals left the centre.
In October 2011 was another culmination for the work with the satellite. Flight development tests were over and so-called qual tests began.
The Space Communication Centre in Akkola is one of few places in the country where the electromagnetic environment is quite favourable. For many dozens of kilometres there are no sources of radiation that may disturb the satellite control.
Another curious detail: according to the international rules the aceeptable satellite deviation from the control point is maximum 0.5 degree. To hold the satellite in the present parameters is a very elaborate work requiring the highest qualification of ballisticians. There are 69 workers in the centre, 36 of them are technical specialists.
Main control console. Seemingly simple…
… but it is not. To understand the condition of the space object (that cannot be even seen through a telescope) looking at this curve on the oscillograph is not a task for everyone.
Victor Lefter, the president of the Republican Space Communication Centre:
- We are going to enlarge the Kazakhstan space fleet up to 3, 4 and maybe even 5 satellites in order we are provided with our own reserves.
By now the main control is performed from Moscow, where the space centre of Khrunichev is situated. But the Republican Space Communication Centre plans to reserve the flight from the Kazakhstan territory. Now they are building another mossion control centre for this, it will be located 30 km from Almaty.
In 2013 they plan to launch the third satellite “KazSat-3″.
Interface of a control department operator as it looks now.