The Proton Rocket is a heavy lift Russian Rocket. It is launched from the
Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan and is built by Khrunchichev. The basic Proton launch
vehicle is a three stage rocket which uses storable propellants.
It is marketed by ILS
(International Launch Services).
It is currently used to deliver International Space Station Modules using the
three stage version and for higher altitude satellites missions it uses a fourth stage.
There are two upper stages in use: the Block-DM which is manufactured by RSC
Energia and utilizes LOX / kerosene propellants and the Breeze-M upper stage
which uses storable propellants.
The Breeze-M was developed from the Breeze-K which is currently used as the Eurockot third stage.
Breeze-M is a larger version of the Breeze-K. By using the Breeze-M, the Proton
Rocket increases its GTO payload capability by 25% to 12,125 lb.
The Proton Launch Vehicle was developed in the 1960's by the Chelomei Design
Bureau (OKB-52) as a two stage intercontinental ballistic missile capable of
launching the heaviest warheads in Soviet Union's arsenal. The heavy lift capability of the Proton was
of interest to the leaders of Russia's space program because it had the
potential to launch space probes to the moon and outer space and it could be
used to launch a circumlunar manned spacecraft around the moon in order to
compete against the US in the race to the moon.
Proton Moon Rocket
In the 1960's three launch vehicles were used in the space race to the moon.
The Soyuz was the smallest launcher and it was used to launch small probes to
The Proton was the second largest. For its moon race contribution, the three
stage Proton used a fourth stage. The upper stage was the OKB-1 Block-D
which used LOX / kerosene as propellants. This allowed the Soviet Union to place large manned
spacecraft on trans-lunar trajectories. The largest rocket was the N-1
which was going to be used to land Soviet Cosmonauts on the moon.
In 1997, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with Russia to market the Proton
Internationally as part of their International Launch Services subsidiary.
The 300th flight of a Proton was launched on 7 June 2003.
The Proton rocket currently lifts the heaviest payload of a Russian Rocket. In
the future the Angara will replace it. The Angara will be launched from Plestek
in northern Russia.
Jupiter Odyssey: The Story of Nasa's
Galileo Mission by David M. Harland