On March 18 (UTC), 2015, there was conducted successful launch of Proton-M launch vehicle with Breeze-M upper stage carrying Ekspress-AM7 telecommunications satellite from Launch Pad 200 at Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan.
In 9 hours spacecraft separeted from the Breeze-M stage in planned geosynchronous orbit (GEO) position. The mission operations were handled by Khrunichev Rocket and Space Center, subsidiary of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), in the interests of Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC).
Ekspress-AM7, build by Airbus Defence and Space (formerly EADS Astrium) based on Eurostar E3000 satellite platform, has 5,720 kg launch mass and accommodates 24 C-band, 36 Ku-band and 2 L-band transponders. It is expected to be positioned in the orbital slot of 40 degrees East and is designed to provide communications services over Europe, most part of Russia, India, the Middle East and Africa.
Ekspress-AM7 is one of four Russian telecommunications satellites of Ekspress series that were made on Eurostar platform by Airbus Defence and Space. Ekspress-AM4 and Ekspress-AM4R ('replacement') were lost in 2011 and 2014, correspondingly, due to launch vehicle failures. Ekspress-AMU1, according to RSCC official website, is scheduled for launch later this year. Other Ekspress series satellites were domestically built.
Next Proton-M launch, and again Roscosmos-operated one, is scheduled for April, when Ekspress-AM8 satellite (ISS Reshetnev-built one) is expected to be positioned at 14 degrees West in order to provide telecom services over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America. After that mission International Launch Services (ILS) are going to conduct second commercial Proton-M mission this year with Mexsat-1 spacecraft for Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico.