BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, December 29, 2009 – International Launch Services (ILS), a leading mission and launch services provider for the global commercial satellite industry, successfully carried the DIRECTV 12 satellite into orbit today for DIRECTV of El Segundo, California, on an ILS Proton. This was the seventh and final commercial launch of 2009 for ILS and the 56th ILS Proton launch overall. ILS Proton launched the DIRECTV 10 satellite just two years ago, demonstrating the enhanced Proton capability which became the standard configuration for future missions.
The ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the cosmodrome at 6:22 a.m. today local time (7:22 p.m. EST, 00:22 GMT). After a 9 hour 10 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the DIRECTV 12 satellite, weighing over 5.9 metric tons, into geostationary transfer orbit. This was the 351st launch for the Proton, following the landmark 350th Proton launched just two weeks earlier on 14 December. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, one of the pillars of the Russian space industry.
The DIRECTV 12 satellite was built on the Boeing 702 platform by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems and will serve to expand DIRECTV’s HD capacity by 50 percent with over 200 national channels and 1,500 local HD and digital channels and more advanced services for its 18 million customers nationwide. The satellite will receive and transmit programming throughout the United States with two Ka-band reflectors, each measuring 2.8 meters in diameter and nine other Ka-band reflectors.
“DIRECTV placed their trust and confidence in ILS two years ago with a very significant launch with the DIRECTV 10 satellite. At that time, it was the largest satellite launched by Proton, demonstrating the increased capabilities of the vehicle. Now, with DIRECTV 12, DIRECTV once again entrusted their business to us with the continuation of this successful partnership. We are very proud to play a significant role in the expansion of digital television services in the United States with DIRECTV,” said ILS President Frank McKenna.
“At DIRECTV, we are proud to say that we have had many successful firsts, including the introduction of HD. We relied on ILS Proton in 2007 to launch DIRECTV 10 and knew that the same professionalism and flawless technical performance would be applied to the launch of DIRECTV 12. We thank the entire mission team from ILS, DIRECTV and Boeing, for their dedication and commitment to this launch,” said Jim Butterworth, DIRECTV Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations.
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. Since its maiden flight in 1965, Proton has launched over 350 times. For more information, visit www.ilslaunch.com.