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April-June 2012

d360-5.jpg (14191 bytes)Delta 4 Heavy Debuts RS-68A Engine

A Delta 4-Heavy, powered for the first time by higher-thrust RS-68A engines, successfully boosted the NROL-15 payload into orbit from Cape Canaveral on June 29, 2012.  The big, triple core rocket sprung off of its SLC 37B launch pad on nearly 955.28 tonnes (2.1 million pounds) of combined thrust from its three engines, a roughly 6 percent increase from the previous RS-68 engine thrust.  Liftoff occurred at 13:15 UTC, following a series of holds caused by valve set point triggers that stopped the automated countdown. 

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) developed RS-68A specifically to be able to lift the NROL-15 payload.  The new engine produces 318.43 tonnes of liftoff thrust and 361.52 tonnes of thrust in vacuum.  Its vacuum specific impulse was targeted for 414 seconds, about 6.5 seconds more than the RS-68 value.   The improved performance increases Delta 4 Heavy's performance.

d360-10.jpg (4911 bytes)It was the 20th Delta 4 launch, the sixth Delta 4 Heavy flight, and the 35th orbital attempt in 2012 to date, worldwide.

RS-68A will be phased into the entire Delta 4 fleet starting in 2015.  The new engine will allow all of the Medium configurations to use a standard core, rather than cores tailor made for each type of strap on solid motor set up. 

av023.jpg (18951 bytes)Atlas Orbits Secret NRO Satellite

AV-023, an Atlas 5-401 orbited the NROL-38 satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 41 on June 20, 2012.   The mission flew into a news blackout several minutes after the rocket's 12:28 UTC liftoff.  United Launch Alliance announced a successful launch about one hour later, consistent with the timing of a descending node Centaur second stage restart for a geosynchronous transfer orbit type mission.  Centaur was expected to subsequently fire again, after payload separation, possibly at first transfer orbit apogee, to deorbit itself.

It was the 12th flight of an Atlas 5-401, and the 11th success.  The launch was also the 31st Atlas 5 flight.  Atlas and Delta have now performed seven NRO missions in the past two years, and two more NRO launches are expected this year.

otv2land.jpg (11324 bytes)X-37B Lands

The second U.S. Air Force X-37B winged Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) returned from orbit and landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 12:48 UTC on June 16, 2012.  OTV-2 had been in orbit for 469 days since its March 5, 2011 launch from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas 5. 

Five tonne OTV-2 carried, and presumably returned, unidentified, secret experiments in its payload bay during its mission.  The craft deployed a solar array to provide power in orbit. 

A third X-37B launch is planned later this year - a mission that will reuse the first X-37B spacecraft.  That vehicle, OTV-1, completed its initial 224 day mission on Dec. 3, 2010.

cz9.jpg (11707 bytes)China Orbits Crewed Shenzhou 9

China orbited three astronauts, including the country's first female space voyager, aboard its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft on June 16, 2012.  Jing Haipeng, who flew aboard Shenzou 7, Liu Wang, and Liu Yang, the first woman to fly aboard Shenzou.   Shenzou 9 is expected to dock with the Tiangong 1 module that has been in orbit since September 2011.  Unmanned Shenzou 8 docked with the module during a November, 2011 demonstration mission.

A Chang Zheng (CZ) 2F/G launched Shenzhou 9 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center's SLS Right pad at 10:37 UTC.  Shenzhou 9 entered a 200 x 330 km x 42 deg initial orbit, from which it will begin maneuvering during a two-day chase of Tiangong 1.  The two will meet in the module's 330 km orbit.  Shenzhou 9 will perform two separate docking maneuvers during a planned two to three week mission.

Shenzhou 9, China's fourth crewed orbital mission, was orbited by the 10th CZ-2F launcher. It was the second world-wide crewed orbital launch of 2012.

peg41.jpg (10628 bytes)Pegasus Orbits NASA X-ray Telescope

A three-stage Pegasus XL air-launched rocket carried NASA's NuSTAR X-ray telescope to low earth orbit after air-dropping from Orbital Sciences Corporation's L-1011 aircraft on June 13, 2012.  The launch was staged from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.   A little more than 10 minutes after Pegasus XL dropped from beneath its carrier jet at 16:00 UTC, 350 kg Orbital-built NuSTAR entered a 600 km x 6 deg. orbit.

Pegasus is integrated at Vandenberg Air Force Base, then ferried to its launch site by the L-1011 carrier aircraft. Launches have been conducted from Vandenberg, Cape Canaveral, Wallops Island, the Canary Islands, and from Kwajalien in the South Pacific.

NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) consists of a 10 meter long extendible mast with X-ray mirrors on one end and X-ray detectors on the other.  The telescope detects higher energy X-rays than previous orbiting X-ray telescopes.  The launch and satellite cost about $180 million.

It was the first Pegasus launch since 2008, the longest hiatus in the winged rocket's 22 year history.  41 Pegasus rockets have launched since 1990, with 36 successes.  Only one more Pegasus launch is currently planned, in early 2013.

z3sl33.jpg (8199 bytes)Sea Launch Orbits Intelsat 19

Sea Launch performed its first launch of the year, and second since returning from bankruptcy, on June 1, 2012 when it's Zenit 3SL rocket lofted Intelsat 19 into geosynchronous transfer orbit from its Odyssey Launch Platform positioned on the equator at 154 deg West in the Pacific Ocean.  The three-stage SL-33 rocket, comprised of a Ukrainian built Zenit 2S two-stage booster topped by a Russian Blok DM-SL upper stage, lifted off at 05:23 UTC.

Intelsat 19, a 5.6 tonne Space Systems/Loral 1300E high-power satellite, was injected into an 870 x 35,636 km x 0 deg orbit about one hour after liftoff, following the second of two Blok DM-SL burns. 

One of the satellite's two solar arrays failed to deploy after spacecraft separation.  A review of sensor data by Sea Launch detected an unexpected sound inside the payload fairing about 72 seconds after liftoff.  Data also showed nominal payload fairing and spacecraft separation events.

It was the 32nd Sea Launch flight since the company began operations in 1999.

Sea Launch, largely owned by Russia's RSC Energia through a subsidiary, has only performed two launches during the past three years, but plans to increase its flight rate in coming months.  

cots23z.jpg (21367 bytes)Dragon Returns

SpaceX's Dragon C2+ successfully ended its mission on May 31, 2012 when the capsule spacecraft splashed down beneath three parachutes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California at 15:42 UTC.   Dragon had departed the International Space Station about 7.5 hours earlier, at 08:07 UTC.  The cargo spacecraft carried more than 600 kg of "down" cargo, including experiments and old equipment.  The reentry and splashdown ended Dragon's COTS 2+ demonstration mission for NASA, opening the way for more cargo flights.

cz4c8true.jpg (6227 bytes)China Launches Spysat

China's Chang Zheng (CZ, or Long March) launch vehicle family was busy again, launching a Yaogan surveillance satellite from Taiyuan on May 29, 2012.  A three-stage CZ-4C rocket performed the launch, boosting Yaogan 15 in to a 1,200 km x 100 deg orbit after a 07:31 UTC lift off.  

China's Xinhua news agency reported that Yaogan 15 would "conduct scientific experiments, carry out land surveys, monitor crop yields and aid in reducing and preventing natural disasters".  Western analysts believe that Yaogan satellites are military surveillance spacecraft with either optical or radar imagers.  The fact that China did not announce the launch before liftoff is consistent with the military satellite theory.

The launch was performed by the eighth CZ-4C, serial number Y10, which was fitted with a 3.35 meter diameter payload fairing.  It was the first CZ-4C launch in more than two years.

It was the 30th orbital launch attempt of 2012.

cz3b21.jpg (19105 bytes)China Orbits Comsat

China's most capable rocket, a CZ-3B/E, successfully orbited the Xhongxing 2A communications satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on May 26, 2012.  The 457 tonne, 3.5 stage rocket lifted off from LC 2 at 15:56 UTC.  After two upper stage burns, the satellite entered a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Xhongxing 2A is operated by China Satellite Communications Group Co., Ltd. and was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.  It will provide national radio and television service, among other tasks. 

cots23.jpg (13471 bytes)Dragon Arrives at ISS

ISS crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon C2+ spacecraft on May 25, 2012, after a slight delay due to a LIDAR issue.  The 5-7 tonne spacecraft (SpaceX has not revealed its mass) was susequently berthed to the station. 

It is the first visit by a commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station. 

Dragon is now demonstrating objectives originally intended for a standalone "C3" mission. 

dragon-c2s.jpg (5649 bytes)Dragon Nears ISS

SpaceX Dragon C2+ flew near and past the International Space Station on May 24 as its Demonstration Mission continued.  During the flyby, Dragon demonstrated communications with the ISS crew, who commanded a strobe light on the spacecraft.   Plans remained on track for a May 25 rendezvous that would lead to ISS capturing and berthing Dragon with its robotic arm.

During the flyby, the ISS crew photographed Dragon in flight for the first time.

f9-3-7.jpg (19588 bytes)Falcon 9 Orbits Dragon

The third SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the company's first fully functional Dragon spacecraft on the COTS C2+ Demonstration Mission for NASA on May 22, 2012.  The two stage, kerosene fueled rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 at 07:44 UTC, beginning an ambitious mission that, if fully implemented, would see the spacecraft docked to the International Space Station for two weeks. 

It was Falcon 9's first night launch.  The liftoff ended a 17 month hiatus for the launch vehicle as SpaceX worked to prepare Dragon for the C2+ mission.

The launch occurred three days after a last second launch abort that was caused by a faulty helium purge check valve on the launcher's center Merlin 1C engine.  Crews identified the problem and replaced the valve while Falcon 9 remained vertical on the pad.

f9-3-9.jpg (10126 bytes)Falcon 9's first stage burned for three minutes, its second stage for an additional 6 minutes 14 seconds, to inject Dragon into a 297 x 346 km x 51.6 deg phasing orbit.  Dragon's twin solar arrays, on their inaugural flight, deployed shortly after spacecraft separation.  The arrays were attached to Dragon's "trunk", an aft module attached to the cone shape spacecraft that was also on its first fully configured flight.  

Dragon carried 460 kg of demonstration cargo for ISS.   Plans call for it to return 620 kg of cargo when it reenters and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.  But the ISS docking is contingent on Dragon successfully completing a series of demonstration maneuvers for NASA during the first two days of its mission, before it will be allowed to approach ISS for a capture berthing.

p377.jpg (25249 bytes)Three Orbital Launches in Five Hours

Proton M/Briz M with Nimiq 6

Three orbital launches took place within about five hours on May 17, 2012.  The burst of flights accounted for more than 11% of the world's year-to-date orbital liftoffs. 

A Soyuz U performed the first launch from Plesetsk Site 16 Pad 2 at 14:05 UTC.   The payload was not announced by Russia's War Department, but analysts believed it was a Kobot M optical photo-reconnaissance satellite.  The satellite entered a 187 x 225 km x 81.38 deg orbit.  It was the 435th and final Soyuz U to fly from Plestesk.   The first such liftoff took place in May 1973.

h2af21.jpg (11661 bytes)H-2A-202 F21 at Tanegashima

A Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A performed the second launch, for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), from LC 1 at Yoshinobu Launch Complex, Tanegashima Space Center.  The 2.5 stage F21 vehicle, flying in a "202" configuration with two strap on SRB-A boosters, lifted off at 16:39 UTC with the 1.99 tonne Global Changing Observation Mission “SHIZUKU” (GCOM-W1) and “KOMPSAT-3” (the Korean Multi-purpose Satellite), an electro-optical imaging satellite for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).  The payloads were boosted into roughly 700 km sun synchronous orbits.  Two small microsatellites were also orbited.

A Proton M/Briz M performed the third launch.  It lifted off from Area 81 Pad 24 at Baikonur Cosmodrome at 19:12 UTC with Telesat of Ottawa's Nimiq 6 communications satellite.  Nimiq 6, a 4.5 tonne Space Systems/Loral satellite, was aimed toward a geosynchronous transfer orbit using a planned nine hour, five-burn Briz M upper stage mission.

va206.jpg (4650 bytes)Ariane Orbits Two Satellites

Ariane 5 ECA Launcher No. L562 successfully orbited a pair of communications satellites for companies based in Japan and Vietnam on May 15, 2012.  Flying Arianespace Mission VA206, the 2.5 stage rocket lifted off from ELA 3 at Kourou Space Center at 22:13 UTC with JCSAT-13 forJapan’s SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and VINASAT-2 for Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group.  

Both satellites were Lockheed Martin A2100 types.   JCSAT-13 with 44 Ku-band transponders weighed 4.53 tonnes.  VINASAT-2 with 24 Ku-band transponders weighed 2.97 tonnes.  The pair were inserted into 250 x 35,927 km x 1.97 deg transfer orbits. 

r71787.jpg (6535 bytes)Soyuz TMA-04M Launch

Russia's Soyuz FG boosted three cosmo/astronauts into orbit aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft on May 15, 2012.   Liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome Area 1 Pad 5 occurred at 03:01 UTC, beginning a 9 minute ascent to a 51.6 deg low earth orbit.  The crew will join the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 31 crew.  

On board Soyuz TMA-04 were Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba.  It was the first crewed space launch of 2012. 

liberty3s.jpg (11526 bytes)Liberty Launch System vies for NASA Commercial Crew

ATK, Astrium, and Lockheed Martin team to offer Liberty, a Commercial Crew competitor.

moonr4s.jpg (12431 bytes)NASA's Lunar Quest

NASA spacecraft have already returned to the Moon, and more are on the way.

cz4b17true.jpg (9208 bytes)China Orbits Remote Sensing Satellite

China successfully launched Yaogan 14, reportedly a remote-sensing satellite, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the northern province of Shanxi, on May 10, 2012.  A three-stage CZ-4B carried the satellite into a 470 km sun synchronous orbit after an 07:06 UTC liftoff from Tayuan's second CZ-4B pad, which first saw use in 2008.

In addition to Yaogan 14, a microsatellite named Tiantuo I was also orbited.  Tiantou, built by the National University of Defense Technology, weighed only 9.3 kg.  It has a naval Automatic Identification System receiver, a small camera, and other experimental equipment.  

cz2d16.jpg (9219 bytes)China Launches Mapping Satellite

A CZ-2D orbited China's Tianhui I-02 mapping satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province on May 6, 2012.  The two-stage rocket lifted off from the Left pad at Launch Area 4 at 07:10 UTC and placed its payload into a 493 x 504 km x 97.36 deg sun synchronous orbit a little more than 11 minutes later. 

The satellite was built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) to perform land resource surveys and mapping. 

It was the 16th flight of the hypergolic fueled CZ-2D.   The type first flew in 1993.  It has performed 16 flights with no failures.

av031.jpg (11728 bytes)Atlas 5 Orbits AEHF-2 for Air Force

An Atlas 5-531 orbited the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-2 (AEHF-2) satellite for the United States Air Force from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 41 on May 4, 2012.   Liftoff occurred at 18:42 UTC.  About 51 minutes later, after two burns by the rocket's Centaur upper stage and an extended coast period, AEHF-2, a 6.17 tonne Lockheed Martin A2100 series communications satellite, seperated into a 222 x 50,244 km x 20.7 deg supersynchronous transfer orbit.

Prior records identified the rocket as "AV-031", but for the first time an Atlas Centaur flew without a tail number decal, preventing vehicle number confirmation.  ULA stopped providing numbers for its Atlas and Delta rockets this year, ending a practice that dated to the dawn of the Space Age.  It was the 30th Atlas 5 launch, the 60th United Launch Alliance mission, and the 20th launch attempt worldwide in 2012 to date.  . 

This was the second Atlas 5-531, which uses a 5-meter diameter Swiss built RUAG payload fairing, three Aerojet solid rocket motors strapped to a Russian Energomash RD-180 powered Atlas first stage, and a Centaur liquid hydrogen upper stage with a single PWR RL10A engine. 

Predecessor AEHF-1 suffered an on-board hydrazine propulsion system failure after its successful 2010 launch by the first Atlas 5-531, forcing it to use its Hall Current Thrusters over an extended period to reach its operational orbit. 

cz3b20.jpg (3936 bytes)China Launches Navsat Pair

China orbited two navigation satellites on April 30, 2012 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center.  A Chang Zheng 3B (CZ-3B) rocket perfomed the mission, lifting off from LC 2 at 20:50 UTC with the Compass-M3 and Compass-M4 satellites.  The satellites were inserted into a planned approximate 240 x 21,575 km x 55 deg. transfer orbit.

pslvc19.jpg (6299 bytes)India Orbits Radarsat

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C19), boosted RISAT 1, the country's first home-built radar imaging satellite, into orbit from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota on April 26, 2012.  The 1,858 kg satellite, heaviest ever launched by a PSLV, was inserted into a 480 km x 97.55 deg orbit about 18 minutes after the 00:17 UTC liftoff.

RISAT 1 has a C-Band synthetic aperature radar (SAR) imager, designed to peer through clouds and darkness to map the Earth's surface. 

PSLV-C19 was the third PSLV-XL flight using stretched solid strap-on motors to augment the four stage core vehicle.  It was the 19th successfull PSLV launch in 21 attempts. 

p376.jpg (16334 bytes)Proton Boosts Comsat for Abu Dhabi

A Russian Proton M/Briz M rocket successfully boosted the Y1B communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit on April 23, 2012 for Al Yah Satellite Communications (Yahsat) of Abu Dhabi.  Proton lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome Area 200 Pad 39 at 22:18 UTC.   After a 9 hour, 12-minute, 5-burn Briz M mission, Y1B, a 6.05 tonne Astrium Eurostar E3000 spacecraft, separated.  Y1B will deliver Ka-band communications for commercial and government users.

It was the 55th Proton M/Briz M flight, the 72nd Proton mission for International Launch Services and the 376th Proton launch overall.

r71786.jpg (3225 bytes)Soyuz U Launches Progress M-15M

Russia launched its Progress M-15M cargo spacecraft toward the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on April 20, 2012.   A 3-stage Soyuz U rocket lifted the Progress, with its 2.4 tonnes of cargo, aloft from Area 31 Pad 6 at 12:50 UTC.    

Progress M-15M was inserted into a 193.68 x 256.52 km x 51.63 deg. inclination orbit, from which it will gradually ascend to meet ISS during a two day flight. The spacecraft carried propellant, oxygen, food, experiment equipment, hardware for the Russian segment, and packages for the ISS crew.  Current ISS crewmembers include Russian cosmonauts Anton Skaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronauts Daniel Burbank and Donald Pettit, and European astronaut Andre Kuipers.

unha3.jpg (13702 bytes)North Korean Launch Fails [Updated 4/20/12]

North Korea attempted to orbit a satellite with an Unha (or "Galaxy", identified as "Unha 3") rocket from its new Sohae Satellite Launching Station near Tongchang-ri in the northwest corner of the country on April 12, 2012, but the launch was reported by U.S. and South Korean officials to have failed.  A "flare" was reportedly observed more than one minute after 22:38:55 UTC liftoff and the rocket fell into the North China Sea.  Fragments fell into an area near the planned first stage drop zone, around 190-200 km west of Kunsan, South Korea, indicating that something went wrong around the time of staging between the first and second stages.  

One report suggested that the "flare" came from the upper section of the rocket (third stage or payload fairing) and that the first stage completed its burn, continuing its flight after the "flare" for perhaps another minute.     

"Unha 3" was aimed toward the south in an attempt to place its 100 kg Kwangmyongsong 3 ("Bright Shining Star") satellite into near-polar Earth orbit.  

The 80+tonne three-stage rocket, similar in appearance to the "Unha 2" launched in 2009, was exhibited by the North Koreans to international media several days before the launch, the first time outsiders have been allowed to see this long-range rocket.  Media personnel were not notified of the launch before it took place and were unable to observe the flight or the failure.  In a break from past launch failure denials, North Korea announced the failure in a state television broadcast several hours after the attempt. 


d359-Image7.jpg (23257 bytes)Delta 4 Launches with Secret Spysat

Delta 359, a Delta 4M+5,2 with two GEM-60 solid boosters, a five-meter upper stage, and a five-meter payload fairing, lifted off from Vandenberg AFB with a secret National Reconnaisance Office satellite on April 3, 2012.  Delta 359 headed on a southwest azimuth with the NROL-25 mission payload, toward what analysts expected to be a 123 degree inclination retrograde orbit.   A similar orbit was used for the 2010 Atlas 5 AV-025 launch of NROL-41, which was believed to be a Future Imaging Architecture radar imaging satellite.  NROL-41 was subsequently observed by amatuers in a 1,100 km x 123 deg circular orbit.  

Delta 359 was the first Delta 4M+5,2, a vehicle capable of lifting 7.85 tonnes to sun synchronous orbit or 4.68 tonnes to geosynchronous transfer orbit. The upper stage is expected to perform two ascent burns, followed by a deorbit burn.

cz3b19.jpg (6200 bytes)CZ 3B Launches Comsat

China's Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B rocket orbited Apstar 7, a French-built communications satellite, on March 31, 2012.  Liftoff from Xichang LC 2 occurred at 10:27 UTC.  An "Enhanced" CZ-3B, with improved first stage and strap-on boosters, performed the mission.

The rockets's liquid hydrogen fueled third stage performed two burns to lift 5,054 kg Apstar 7 into a 240 x 50,127 km x 27.42 deg geosynchronous transfer orbit. 

Apstar 7 is a Thales Alenia/Cannes Spacebus 4000C2 "ITAR-free" satellite built for Asia Pacific Telecom Satellite Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong.  It will serve China, the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Australia, and part of Europe.

p375.jpg (6197 bytes)Final Proton K Launched

Russia's final Proton K rocket, topped by the final Blok DM-2 upper stage, successfully orbited an Oko-1 early warning satellite for Russia's Ministry of Defense on March 30, 2012.   Liftoff from Area 81 Pad 24 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan took place at 05:49 UTC.  The Blok DM-2 upper stage inserted Oko-1, identified as Kosmos 2479, into a 219 x 35,906 km x 49.28 deg geosynchronous transfer orbit, then fired again several hours later to circularize the orbit. 

Proton K serial 41018 with Blok DM-2 serial 117L performed the mission. Proton K, based on the two-stage UR-500 rocket, was developed by Vladimir Chelomei during the 1960s.   The first launch took place on March 10, 1967. During the past decade, the updated Proton M series has gradually replaced Proton-K.  Likewise, the Blok DM upper stage is being replaced by the Krunichev Briz M stage.

p374.jpg (6683 bytes)Proton Orbits Intelsat 22

Russia's Proton M/Briz M orbited Intelsat 22 from Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 25, 2012.  The 705 tonne, 58.2 meter tall Khrunichev-built four-stage rocket lifted off from Area 200 Pad 39 at 12:10 UTC to begin an unprecendented 15.5 hour long ascent to supersynchronous transfer orbit.   During the extended mission, the hypergolic storable fueled Briz M upper stage performed five burns to lift the 6,199 kg Boeing 702MP communications satellite, the first of its type, into a 3,791 km x 65,000 km x 28.5 degree orbit. 

Intelsat 22 will be positioned at 72 degrees East in geostationary orbit to provide Ku-band capacity for the Middle East and eastern Africa, C-band coverage for most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and eastern Asia.  The satellite also carries an Ultra-High Frequency payload for the Australian Defence Force.

The first three Proton stages placed Briz M and payload into a sub-orbital trajectory.  Briz M fired to reach a circular parking orbit, then fired four more times to reach its final transfer orbit.

va205.jpg (9963 bytes)Ariane 5 Launches ISS Cargo Ship

Ariane 5 ES vehicle L553 successfully orbited Europe's third ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), named Edoardo Amaldi, toward the International Space Station (ISS) on March 23, 2012.   Liftoff from Kourou's ELA 3 occurred at 04:34 UTC.

At 19.714 tonnes, ATV-3 was Ariane's heaviest-ever payload.  Edoardo Amaldi carried 6.96 tonnes of cargo, including on-board propellant, for ISS. 

The rocket's hypergolic EPS stage fired twice to deploy ATV-3 into a 260 km x 51.6 deg orbit.  Separation occurred about one hour after liftoff.  About 90 minutes later, EPS performed a third, deorbit burn. 

It was the 61st Ariane 5 launch and the third Ariane 5 ES flight.  Prior ES missions orbited ATV-1 "Jules Verne" in 2008 and ATV-2 "Johannes Kepler" in 2011.