EchoStar 14 Launched Aboard Proton Rocket

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PARIS — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket, benefiting from an upgrade program that has increased its lift capability, on March 21 direct-broadcast television satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, ILS and EchoStar announced. At 6,379 kilograms, EchoStar 14 was the heaviest commercial payload ever lofted by a Proton vehicle.

The launch, from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was the fourth Proton flight for 2010 and the second of a planned seven commercial missions for the vehicle this year.

Reston, Va.-based ILS advertises Proton’s so-called reference mission limit at 6,150 kilograms, but a vehicle-modernization program under way has added new capacity that, with an optimized orbital trajectory, can exceed the reference weight.

Built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., EchoStar 14 is a Loral 1300 satellite frame carrying 103 Ku-band transponders. It will operate for a scheduled 15 years at the 119 degrees west longitude orbital slot, one of the principal orbital locations for satellite-television provider Dish Network. EchoStar Satellite Services, which was spun off from Dish Network in January 2008, handles Dish satellite procurement and launches.

EchoStar 14 will provide in-orbit backup for Englewood, Colo.-based EchoStar’s current fleet in addition to using its spot beams to provide local-to-local television, including high-definition programming.