A Russian Proton-M launch vehicle carrying the Dutch SES-4 (NSS-14) telecoms satellite lifted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan after a series of delays caused by technical problems, Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
“The launch occurred at the calculated time - 11:36 p.m. Moscow time [19:36 GMT],” Roscosmos said. “The separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle is expected at 08:48 a.m. Moscow time [04:48 GMT] on February 15.”
The blastoff was the 70th commercial launch of a Proton carrier rocket since 1995 under contracts concluded by International Launch Services Inc. (ILS).
ILS initially had to postpone the launch planned for December 26, 2011 after a problem affecting the avionics unit of the rocket’s Briz-M upper stage was discovered.
The launch was moved to a later date for the second time on January 28 due to an electrical problem affecting the Proton rocket.
The SES-4 is the largest and most powerful in the group of SES satellites, built by U.S. company Space Systems/Loral for the Dutch operator SES World Skies, which is now a subsidiary of Luxemburg-based SES S.A.
It was designed to provide various satellite services to customers in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Equipped with 52 C-band and 72 Ku-band transponders, the 5.8-ton satellite has a life span of 15 years.
The SES-4 will be deployed over the Atlantic Ocean region, enabling the incumbent NSS-7 satellite to move to a new orbital position.