At 2:28 a.m. Moscow time (23:28 GMT Friday), a few minutes after the Proton-M carrier rocket's launch from the Baikonur Space Center which Russia rents from Kazakhstan, the Breeze-M orbit insertion booster failed during its upper stage, putting the satellite into orbit much lower than required.
A spokesman for the space agency, Roscosmos, told RIA Novosti: "The communications satellite which was incorrectly put into orbit by the Russian Proton carrier rocket is fully controllable, but is at an orbit of 28,000 kilometers instead of the required 36,000 kilometers. A further decision on the satellite will be taken by the customer, the American corporation SES Americom."
Designed and made by U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, the satellite was intended to cover the entire North American continent, with a service life of 15 years.
Due to the launch failure, the satellite's orbit "is two low for the spacecraft to properly cover telecommunication signals in the regions of the U.S. for which it was launched," the spokesman said.
The launch was carried out under a contract between the Russian-American joint venture International Launch Services (ILS) and the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center.
ILS, owned by the Khrunichev Center, RSC Energia, and U.S. firm Space Transport Inc. provides spacecraft launch services by Proton-M rockets.
Last year was the joint venture's first as an independent company marketing the Proton Breeze-M vehicle.
ILS is incorporated in Delaware in the United States, and is headquartered in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.