DIRECTV 8 Satellite will Strengthen Service to DIRECTV Customers; Successful Launch of New Loral-built Satellite will Add More Muscle to the DIRECTV Satellite Fleet and Capacity to Support Local Digital/HD Expansion
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 22, 2005 — DIRECTV continued to strengthen its constellation of satellites for the delivery of more new content and services for its more than 14.4 million customers with the successful launch today of the DIRECTV 8 satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite, a powerful Ku/Ka-band hybrid spacecraft, will reinforce the existing fleet of eight DIRECTV satellites and will take the place of an older DIRECTV satellite at the 101-degree West longitude orbital slot. DIRECTV 8 will also provide a link for DIRECTV broadcast facilities in support of the roll out of local digital and high-definition channels in major markets this fall.
DIRECTV 8 was launched aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Russian-built Proton launch vehicle at 10:59 a.m. PDT. After nine hours and 15 minutes, the rocket left the spacecraft in a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point of 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator. Controllers at ground stations in Weilheim, Germany and Gnangara in Western Australia have made contact with the satellite and confirmed that all systems are functioning properly.
“We congratulate the launch teams from Space Systems/Loral and ILS on a picture-perfect launch today,” said Chase Carey, president and CEO, DIRECTV, Inc. “New satellites like DIRECTV 8 and the recently launched Spaceway F1, enable us to continue to build on our leadership position and roll out additional new products and services for our customers, and take advantage of new opportunities in the marketplace, including the growing demand for HD and interactive services.”
During the next two weeks, controllers will maneuver the spacecraft into a circular orbit; deploy the antennas and solar arrays; and test operational functions, communications payload and propulsion system. DIRECTV expects to begin offering services from DIRECTV 8 in early fall.
DIRECTV 8 is the second DIRECTV satellite launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the oldest space launch facility in the world. ILS, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) of the United States and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Russia, has launched three other DIRECTV satellites — DIRECTV 2 in 1994, DIRECTV 6 in 1997, both on Atlas vehicles, and DIRECTV 5 in 2002 on Proton. The DIRECTV 8 satellite is a Space Systems/Loral 1300 model similar to DIRECTV 5.
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