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BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Dec. 10, 2008 – International Launch Services (ILS), a world leader in providing mission and launch services to the commercial satellite industry, successfully carried the Ciel II satellite into space for the Ciel Satellite Group of Canada today on Russia’s premier heavy-lift launch vehicle, the Proton Breeze M.

This was the sixth launch of the year, and 49th overall, for ILS. It is the 340th launch for the Proton system since its inception. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is built by Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow.

The Proton vehicle lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:43 p.m. local time (8:43 a.m. EST, 13:43 GMT). The launch vehicle carried the 5 1/2-ton satellite for 9 hours and 12 minutes, releasing it into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Ciel II is a Spacebus 4000 model built by Thales Alenia Space. The satellite will ultimately be moved to 129 degrees West longitude, where it will deliver digital television services to Canada and the contiguous United States.

Frank McKenna, President of International Launch Services, said, “I would like to thank Ciel and SES for placing their confidence and trust in ILS and the Proton Breeze M.  We entered into this launch contract in February of last year and set the launch for December 2008; this supports ILS’s long-standing commitment to precise, on-time delivery for our customers. Ciel II is the 16th satellite that ILS has launched for the SES family, a successful, on-going collaboration that spans more than a dozen years.”

Brian Neill, chairman of the Ciel Satellite Group, said, “Last evening’s launch of Ciel II is a keystone event in the foundation of Ciel, Canada’s newest satellite operating company.  Now that the spacecraft has delivered an initial signal, Ciel, our founders, investors, and our customer, Dish Network, can look forward to Ciel II’s operation early next year.”  He continued, “The successful launch of Ciel II is the culmination of a complex and highly specialized sequence of tasks that fully exercised a remarkable team of experts from SES AMERICOM, Thales Alenia Space, SES Engineering, and ILS — from beginning to end, the mission took 33 months.  Let me thank them now for a job well done!”

ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton, Russia’s premier heavy-lift vehicle, to commercial satellite operators worldwide. ILS is a U.S. company located in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.  The majority owner is Khrunichev Space Center, one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry and manufacturer of the Proton system.  For more information, visit

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