Monday, March 24, 2008

New DirecTV satellite will add high def channels

A new 13,058-pound DirecTV satellite, launched March 20 from the Pacific Ocean-based Sea Launch platform, will further boost DirecTV's HD capacity, enabling it to deliver up to 150 national HD channels when the satellite goes into service this fall. With the additional capacity, DirecTV will also expand its delivery of local HD channels to more than 100 markets, representing 84 percent of US TV households.

DirecTV will launch another satellite in 2009 that will enable it to offer consumers up to 200 national HD channels.

DirecTV 11, a Boeing 702 model satellite, lifted off from the Odyssey Launch Platform aboard a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket from the equatorial Pacific launch site at 154 degrees West longitude. The Oddyssey was originally built to be an oil-drilling platform, but was converted for rocket launching.

The Sea Launch Company is based in Long Beach, California, and is a joint venture of Boeing and companies based in Norway, Russia, and Ukraine. It provides heavy lift launch services to the commercial market. With the advantage of a launch site on the Equator, the Zenit-3SL rocket can lift a heavier spacecraft and provide longer life in orbit than other launch locations.

After one hour and 55 seconds in flight, the rocket left the spacecraft in a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point of 1,323 miles above the Indian Ocean. The satellite's ultimate geostationary orbit position will be at 22,236 miles above the earth. Controllers at the ground station in South Africa have made contact with the satellite and confirmed it is functioning properly.

DirecTV 11, the tenth owned and operated satellite in the DirecTV fleet, will be maneuvered into a circular orbit at 99.2 degrees West longitude and when tests are completed, it is expected to begin operations in early September, providing capacity for up to 50 additional national HD channels.

The new satellite's transponders will also begin delivery of local HD channels to new markets across the US, expanding the number of markets where DirecTV offers local HD broadcast networks to more than 100 by the end of 2008. DirecTV now offers 92 national HD channels and provides local HD broadcast channels in 77 cities, representing approximately 76 percent of US TV households.

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