BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER (Interfax) - A Proton-M Russian space rocket put the Canadian telecommunications satellite Nimiq-4 coupled with a Briz-M upper stage into a transfer orbit on Sept. 19.
"The third stage of the rocket separated and has started an autonomous flight along the orbit," the Khrunichev research and production space center told Interfax.
The Briz-M upper stage will now fire its cruise propulsion engine five times to deliver the satellite into the target orbit, it said.
Nimiq-4 is a new telecommunications satellite designed to improve television broadcasting in Canada. The satellite belongs to Telesat Canada, a national Canadian satellite communications operator.
The Nimiq-4 was built by the European company EADS Astrium, and is based on the Eurostar E3000S satellite platform. It should occupy a geostationary orbit for 15 years.
Several Canadian satellites have already been launched from the Baikonur space center under contracts with Telesat Canada. Proton-K rockets put the Nimiq-1 satellite into orbit on May 21, 1999 and Nimiq-2 on December 30, 2002. These were followed by successful launches of spacecraft similar to the Nimiq, namely the Anik-F1R in2005 and AnikF3 in 2007. The launch of Nimiq-5 from a Proton-M is scheduled for 2009.
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