A Russian-built Proton Breeze M vehicle provided by International Launch Services (ILS) successfully launched a satellite today that will carry direct-to-home television services, together with voice and broadband services, across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe.
The Proton launcher lifted off at 2:01 a.m. local time in Baikonur (3:01 p.m. Wednesday EST, 20:01 Wednesday GMT). It carried the BADR-4 satellite built by Astrium, which contracted for the launch on behalf of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization, ARABSAT, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ILS is the U.S.-Russian joint venture responsible for worldwide commercial sales and mission management of satellite launches on Russia's premier vehicle, the Proton.
"This was the third ILS Proton flight in 2006, and we're proud to say we delivered the satellite on target," said ILS President Frank McKenna. The satellite is a Eurostar E2000+ model. Protons also have launched five of the heavier Astrium Eurostar E3000 spacecraft.
Antoine Bouvier, Astrium chairman and chief executive officer, said: "I am delighted that ARABSAT's BADR-4 has been injected into transfer orbit by ILS. Astrium has worked tirelessly to ensure that this latest significant step in the development of ARABSAT's business is a resounding success. We look forward to continuing our fruitful relationship with ARABSAT."
"The successful launch of BADR-4 represents the realization of a critical milestone in ARABSAT's new strategic deployment, as well as the company's steadfast commitment to consolidating its historical position as the leading operator of direct-to-home services in the Middle East and North Africa region," said Khalid Balkheyour, ARABSAT's chief executive officer.
"Thanks to the superb combined performance of the Proton launcher and Astrium design and manufacturing, BADR-4 is now the most state-of-the-art satellite to serve the region, providing the 130 million viewers watching our 26 degrees East video "hot spot" with an unrivalled level of in-orbit reliability and back-up, as well as unprecedented reach serving all of the 324 million inhabitants now fully covered from Morocco and Algeria to the Arabian Gulf with the highest power ever," Balkheyour said.
The Proton vehicle, built by ILS partner Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Russia, has carried out 322 missions for the Russian government and commercial customers over more than 40 years.
ILS is a joint venture between Space Transport Inc. and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center with RSC Energia. ILS is incorporated in Delaware in the United States, and is headquartered in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.