Once again the US and Russia are all set to team up in space--this will happen on November 14, 2010 at 8.29 p.m. (Moscow time) when a Russian rocket with an American communication satellite will be launched from the Baikonour cosmodrome.
The satellite will provide broadband wireless coverage to consumer electronic devices in North and Central America. Manufactured by Boeing, the spacecraft will operate in the geo stationary orbit over North America. Essentially, it is a commercial communication satellite.
Originally, it was to have been launched by Sea Launch. However, following the collapse of Sea Launch company, it was decided to use the Proton-M rocket . The earlier plan envisaged the satellite being launched on May 15,2007. But, technical problems resulted in the launch being resked to November 14.
On November 13, it was what Russian space scientists call ``Spare Day,'' at the Baikonour cosmodrome. The Proton-M rocket with the Breeze-M upper stage was rolled to the launch pad on November 11, followed by autonomous tests of the launcher and the upper stage, as well as the integrated tests of the control systems. They also simulated the tanking procedures.
The Proton-M is the latest version of the Proton rockets having the capability to place in orbit satellites weighing between three and 3.2 tonnes into the geo synchronous orbit.
The Breeze-M also known as Briz-M is a Russian orbit insertion upper stage manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre and is used on the Proton-M rocket. The upper stage Breeze-M is used for placing heavy or large payloads into the low, medium or high geosynchronous orbit. It can also take payloads to earth escape trajectories.
The Breeze-M upper stage had its maiden flight on May 2000 when it delivered the Gorizont communication satellite into orbit. The combination of Proton-M and Breeze-M has successfully carried satellites like Intelsat, Hispat, Direct TV, Worldsat-3 and Arabsat-4a into orbit.
So, on November 14 if the mission is a success it will once again be a grand handshake in space of two countries which were once major rivals. The US and the former Soviet Union, a part of which is Russia.
All the very best.