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Russian Rocket Launches European Broadcast Satellite

Russian Rocket Launches European Broadcast Satellite
An ILS Proton rocket launches the Astra 1M direct-to-television broadcast satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on Nov. 5, 2008. (Image credit: ILS.)

PARIS -Satellite-fleet operator SES Astra expects to begin commercial service of itsAstra 1M satellite in January at the company?s prime orbital slot, 19.2 degreeseast, following a successful Wednesday launch by an International LaunchServices (ILS) Russian Proton-M rocket, Luxembourg-based SES announced.

The11,684-pound (5,300-kg) Astra 1M, a Eurostar E3000 platform built by AstriumSatellites, carries 36 high-power Ku-band transponders, and three antennas andwill provide direct-broadcast television, including high-definitionprogramming, throughout Europe. The satellite is capable of generating 10kilowatts of power and is expected to operate for 15 years.

The ProtonBreeze M rocket, built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centerof Moscow, blasted off from Russia?s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:44p.m. EST (2044 GMT). The Breeze M upper stage conducted five ignitions beforeplacing Astra 1M into geostationary transfer orbit nine hours and 12 minutesafter liftoff, according to Reston, Va.-based ILS, the company thatcommercializes Proton launches.

The launchis the third successful ILS liftoff sincea March failure, which destroyed the SES Americom AMC-14 satellite. AProton in a different configuration, carrying a Russian government satellite, alsowas launched since the March failure.

ILS? nextlaunch, scheduled for December, is expected to carry the Ciel-2telecommunications satellite into orbit for Canada?s start-up Ciel SatelliteLP, which is majority-owned by SES.

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Charles Q. Choi
Charles Q. Choi is a contributing writer for Space.com and Live Science. He covers all things human origins and astronomy as well as physics, animals and general science topics. Charles has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. Charles has visited every continent on Earth, drinking rancid yak butter tea in Lhasa, snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos and even climbing an iceberg in Antarctica. Visit him at http://www.sciwriter.us