|The 79th flight of Europe's Ariane 5 lifts-off on May 27 from Kourou. (arianespace)|
A massive European rocket lifted off from the edge of the Amazon Forest on Wednesday to deliver a pair of commercial broadcast satellites for DirecTV and SKY Mexico.
The direct-to-home telecommunications satellites, DirecTV 15 and Sky Mexico 1, were successfully placed into special transfer orbits. The two spacecraft will be maneuvered over the next week into its proper orbit.
"DIRECTV 15 will provide additional digital television entertainment services for more than 20 million DIRECTV customers in the United States," Astrid Emerit, spokesperson for Airbus Defense and Space said.
SKYM-1 will add a larger coverage map for Mexico's pay-TV provider, Sky, a sister company to DirecTV. The spacecraft will expand HD broadcast channels for customers in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
The Ariane 5 heavy lift launcher thundered into the cloudy skies from its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana at 5:16:07 p.m. EDT (6:16 p.m. local time), and seconds later began to dart out over the Atlantic waters.
Two minutes later, the rocket's twin boosters separated on time, meanwhile Ariane's core Vulcain engine continued to push the rocket higher.
DirecTV 15, which rode to orbit in the top of the two satellite stack, was deployed at 5:43:54 pm high over eastern coast of central Africa. Ten minutes later, SKYM-1 separated from the Ariane's upper stage -- both satellites beginning an expected 15-year life on orbit.
“DIRECTV 15 is not just the 100th telecommunications satellite we have built for geostationary orbit it is also the most powerful television broadcasting satellite ever built in Europe, the most powerful used in the USA and our 8th satellite to use electric propulsion for station-keeping,” François Auque, Head of Space Systems, stated on Monday. “This launch once more highlights the expertise and competitiveness of Airbus Defence and Space as the prime contractor for both the DIRECTV 15 satellite and the Ariane 5 launcher.”