AKA: GP Kosmicheskaya Svyas'. Location: Moskva.
Direct Broadcasting satellite. Maiden flight of new version of Proton. Launch delayed from August 2000, March 16 and April 6. Ekran-M No. 18 was a UHF television broadcasting satellite which was to be stationed at 99 deg E to provided television service to the Russian Far East. The satellite had a launch mass of around 2100 kg and was to replace the recently failed Ekran-M 15 that had been operating since October 1992 at the 105 deg-E longitude orbital slot.
The improved 3-stage Proton launch vehicle, with a new digital flight control system and enhanced first stage engines, delivered its payload section to a suborbital trajectory at 0356 GMT. The Briz-M upper stage then fired to enter a 200 km parking orbit. It appears that only two more burns were used to reach geostationary orbit: one at around 0440 GMT to enter a 200 x 35800 km GTO, after which the Briz-M toroidal drop tank was jettisoned, and one at around 1000 GMT, to circularize the orbit at geostationary altitude. Briz-M reportedly separated from its payload at 1031 GMT. Ekran was expected to reach its 99 deg E final location on around April 24. As of 5 September 2001 located at 99.27 deg E drifting at 0.009 deg E per day. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 99.30E drifting at 0.005W degrees per day.