Ekspress (Russian: Экспресс meaning Express), is a series of geostationary communications satellites owned by Russian State Company for Satellite Communications. The first satellite of this kind was launched on October 13, 1994. The satellites are produced by the company JSC Information Satellite Systems.
The Ekspress series of communication satellites (industry code 11F639) was developed by the satellite company NPO PM as a replacement for the old Gorizont series of comsats. The first satellite of the series, Ekspress 1, was launched in 1994. It had a mass of 2.5 tons, 17 channels and an operational lifetime of at 5–7 years.
Starting in the mid-1990s, NPO PM started to make significant effort to close the technology gap between Russian and Western communication satellites. Cooperation with the French company Alcatel (now Thales Alenia Space) was begun in 1995. The first satellite of a new second series, Ekspress A-1, had 12 Alcatel-built transponders. It was lost in a rocket failure in 1999, but a replacement, Ekspress A-2 was successfully launched in March, 2000.
A major improvement was the Ekspress AM version, first launched in 2003. It has an operational lifetime of 12–15 years and is able to carry 38 channels, including digital TV, radio, broadband and internet. The launch of the Ekspress AM-3 spacecraft in June, 2005 completed the modernization of Russia's communications satellite network.
Other versions of include the Ekspress 2000, which has a mass of 3.2 tonnes. It has up to 60 transponders, power of 25 kW and a lifetime of 15 years. Satellites using this platform are called the Ekspress AT series and the Ekspress AM30 and AM40 series. Ekspress 1000 is smaller than the 2000 version; 700 kg to 1,400 kg, 10 to 12 transponders, 2 kW of power and a lifetime of 15 years. Satellites based on Ekspress 1000 are called Ekspress AK or in its navigational version GLONASS K.
The Ekspress-AM4 satellite was launched on August 17, 2011, but an anomaly with the Proton-M/Briz-M rocket left it in a useless orbit. The satellite was intentionally deorbited March 26, 2012, despite proposals to place the satellite into a higher-inclination orbit to provide coverage of the Antarctic. The Ekspress-MD2 satellite was lost in a similar failure in August 2012, when the Briz-M failed at the start of its third burn.
- Ekspress A-2. 12 March 2000.
- Ekspress A-3. 24 June 2000.
- Ekspress A4. 10 June 2002.
- Ekspress AM22. 29 December 2003.
- Ekspress AM11. 27 April 2004.
- Ekspress AM1. 30 October 2004.
- Ekspress AM2. 29 March 2005.
- Ekspress AM3. 24 June 2005.
On 29 March 2006, the AM11 was struck by an unknown object which rendered it inoperable. Luckily, the engineers had enough time in contact with the spacecraft to send it to a parking orbit out of GEO.
The Ekspress AM4R was launched 16 May 2014 on a Russian Proton M launch vehicle. The launch vehicle exploded 540 s into the flight, shortly before the end of the third-stage engine firing. Ekspress AM4 was a total loss.
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