Monday, December 28, 2009

Russian Proton rocket launches DirecTV satellite

A new satellite which will increase the amount of high definition channels DirecTV offers arrived in orbit tonight, and will spend the next several hours moving into a permanent position to service the United States this spring.

An International Launch Services Proton-M rocket lifted-off on time at 7:22 pm EST tonight (0022 GMT Tuesday morning) from a chilly pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and into an overcast sky.

The silver 191-foot tall Proton launched into the cold night sky on the final space shot of 2009, and flew eastward out of Kazakhstan and over Mongolia. Two minutes into the flight, the first stage separated from the upper stage.

Spacecraft separation is planned for 4:32 am EST (3:32 pm Baikonur time) on Tuesday.

The seventh ILS Proton launch of the year carried the Boeing-built DirecTV 12 will provide expanded high definition channels for the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The satellite will use two huge Ka-band refelctors -- each measuring nearly 3 meters in diameter -- for the reception and transmission of over 200 cable channels.

Since 1994, Boeing has built 11 satellites for DirecTV.

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