Proton rocket launches Satmex 8 into orbit

Washington DC
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A Proton-M has launched Satmex 8, a communications satellite, from its pad at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 26 March.

As of press time, the Breeze-M upper stage has completed its first burn; three burns and several hours remain before the satellite reaches geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The launch was anxiously awaited as Proton has suffered a series of upper stage-related failures, including the December, 2012 launch immediately proceeding the 26 March flight. The August launch failed when the Breeze-M's fourth burn cut off four minutes early, according to Flightglobal/Ascend's database. The cause was established to be an unexpected warming of the cryogenic oxidizer, causing the engine to attempt running on gas instead of liquid nitrogen textroxide.

Proton is among the most-launched rockets in the world, with 26 March marking the 383rd launch.