The Proton-M launch vehicle consists of three stages; all of them powered by liquid rocket engines using the hypergolic propellant combination of dinitrogen tetroxide as the oxidizer, and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine for fuel.
The first stage is unique in that it consists of a central cylindrical oxidizer tank with the same diameter as the other two stages with six fuel tanks attached to its circumference, each carrying an engine. The engines in this stage can swivel tangentially up to 7° from the neutral position, providing full thrust vector control. The rationale for this design is logistics: the diameter of the oxidizer tanks and the two following stages is the maximum that can be delivered by railroad to Baikonur. However, within Baikonur the fully assembled stack is transported again by rail, as it has enough clearance.
The second stage uses a conventional cylindrical design. It is powered by three RD-0210 engines and one RD-0211 engine. The RD-0211 is a modified version of the RD-0210 used to pressurize the propellant tanks. The second stage is joined to the first stage through a net instead of a closed inter-stage, to allow the exhaust to escape because the second stage ...