Russian-German company Eurockot has started work on a reduced weight version of the Breeze KM third stage of its Rockot launcher in preparation for its move into the geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite market. The move comes ahead of the present three-stage liquid propellant Rockot's first commercial low Earth orbit (LEO) launch in November.

Eurockot is part of the launch services division of EADS, with EADS company Astrium holding a 51% stake and Russian space company Khrunichev 49%. The partners have for some time been assessing moving from the LEO to the GEO market to capitalise on demand for low-cost GEO communication satellites. Earlier this year the company signed a contract with Inter-sputnik to launch two communications satellites, M1 and M2, in 2003.

To serve this market, Khrunichev is producing a reduced weight version of the Breeze KM third stage, the Breeze-KS. It has also designed the Yacht Dialog spacecraft bus, able to carry 10 transponders and equipped with xenon plasma thrusters to enable it to move from geostationary transfer orbit to GEO. An additional boost module on the satellite could increase the transponder capability.

The Rockot (known as Rokot in Russia) is based on the two stage Russian SS-19 ICBM. It flies from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and can carry about 1,000kg (2,200lb) into LEO. The November commercial launch will carry NASA/ German DLR Grace satellites, mounted on a Multi-Satellite Dispenser made by Germany's Rostock System Technik.


Source: Flight International