For a high definition photo of the launch, click here.


BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Nov.  6, 2008 – A Proton Breeze M launch vehicle successfully lifted the ASTRA 1M satellite into orbit today, marking the fifth mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).

The Proton vehicle lifted off from Pad 39 at the cosmodrome at 2:44 a.m. today local time (3:44 p.m. EST Wednesday, 20:44 GMT Wednesday).  After a 9-hour-12-minute mission, the launcher released the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.  The satellite will eventually go into operation at 19.2 degrees East longitude for SES ASTRA of Luxembourg.

Proton is Russia’s premier heavy-launch vehicle, and is manufactured by Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow.  Khrunichev is the majority owner of ILS.

The ASTRA 1M mission is the third launch for ILS since mid-August. Although the satellites were for different customers, all three were built on the Eurostar 3000 bus by EADS Astrium of France.  In addition to the ILS launches, there was one Russian federal mission on Proton during that time frame as well.

“SES is a long-time customer, and in fact was the first ILS customer to launch on Proton,” said ILS President Frank McKenna.  “We thank SES for its confidence in Proton and for supporting us during our return-to-flight activities, the implementation of the Khrunichev Quality Initiative and now the successful launch of ASTRA 1M.”

“We are very proud and satisfied that the ASTRA 1M launch has been a success,” said Ferdinand Kayser, president and CEO of SES ASTRA. “ASTRA 1M will benefit our customers and allow them to broadcast additional high-definition channels. The success of the ASTRA 1M launch is an important milestone for SES ASTRA and we would like to underline the very good cooperation with our launch partners, International Launch Services and EADS ASTRIUM.”

About ILS and Khrunichev:

ILS provides satellite customers with a complete array of services and support, from contract signing through mission management and on-orbit delivery.  ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton vehicle to commercial satellite operators worldwide.  ILS is a U.S. company incorporated in Delaware, and headquartered in Reston, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit

Khrunichev, which holds the majority interest in ILS, is one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry.  Khrunichev manufactures the Proton system and is developing the Angara launch system.  The Proton launches from facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and has a heritage of more than 330 missions since 1965.  Khrunichev includes among its branches a number of key manufacturers of launch vehicle and spacecraft components in Moscow and in other cities of the Russian Federation.  For more information, visit


SES ASTRA is the leading Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite system in Europe. The satellite fleet currently comprises 14 ASTRA and two SIRIUS satellites. The combined satellite system delivers services to more than 117 million DTH and cable households and transmits a total of 2,433 analog and digital television and radio channels. SES ASTRA also provides satellite-based multimedia, internet and telecommunication services to enterprises, governments and their agencies. With 55 high-definition (HD) channels concentrated on its main orbital positions, ASTRA and SIRIUS represent the most important HDTV platform for Europe’s leading broadcasters. The prime orbital positions for ASTRA and SIRIUS are 19.2 degrees East, 28.2 degrees East, 23.5 degrees East, 5 degrees East and 31.5 degrees East. For more information, visit

SES ASTRA is an SES company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG). SES owns three market-leading satellite operators, SES ASTRA in Europe, SES AMERICOM in North America, and SES NEW SKIES which provides global coverage and connectivity. The company owns 90 percent of SES SIRIUS in Europe, as well as strategic participations in Ciel in Canada and Quetzsat in Mexico. SES provides outstanding satellite communications solutions via a fleet of 39 satellites in 26 orbital positions around the globe. Additional information on SES is available at:


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