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: © 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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