Back on the 7th of June (the 8th of June in Russia) the legendary Proton-M rocket made its first launch of 2017. This powerful booster hasn’t been launched in just shy of a year thanks to some manufacturing issues which would have put a launch into jeopardy; it looks like those issues have been solved. This was, of course, a successful launch.
I don’t think I’ve had a good chance to talk about the Proton booster, but it’s an interesting one, for sure. Designed as a “Super Heavy” Intercontinental Ballistic Missile for 100+ megaton nuclear weapons, but since these bombs were (thankfully) never deployed, the booster role quickly changed to that of a heavy lift launch vehicle. Owing to this legacy, it’s fueled by the same toxic hypergolic fuels as the Titan II, resulting in the same rather beautiful but deadly exhaust as the Titan’s, and other vehicles that use such fuel.
While it didn’t have much success in the early days, Proton has gone on to become the most reliable heavy booster in the world, having launched dozens of satellites, automated missions to other planets, and most importantly the Salyut stations, the MIR core module and most of it’s support modules, and the Zarya and Zvezda modules of the International Space Station!
As always when discussing a rocket launch, we’ve got video for you to check out: In this case, from a few sources. Launch video isn’t the best for Proton launches, but the first video goes into a detailed explanation of it’s launch process and the rather complex orbital insertion of it’s payload, Echostar 21.
In the event you want some fully Russian footage, here ya go!