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KOUROU, French Guiana, — The Brasilsat B4 satellite, fourth in a series built by Hughes Space and Communications Company (HSC) for EMBRATEL of Rio de Janeiro, is scheduled for launch here Thursday (Aug. 17). Liftoff will be aboard an Arianespace Ariane 44LP rocket from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport, on the northeast coast of South America. The 42-minute launch window opens at 8:16 p.m. at the launch site, or 4:16 p.m. PDT and 23:16 GMT.
Brasilsat B4 is a Hughes 376W (for wide-body) spin-stabilized communications satellite, similar to the three HSC-built Brasilsat B spacecraft now in orbit. The spacecraft are operated by the Satellite Business Unit of EMBRATEL, Brazil’s leading telecommunications company.
"The Brasilsat B program is a success story, not only with the long-standing engineering cooperation but also with the growth of EMBRATEL into the largest satellite operator in Latin America," said Tig H. Krekel, HSC President and CEO.
Brasilsat B4 will carry primarily voice and data traffic over its 28 C-band transponders. The satellite is expected to operate for more than 12 years. It will be positioned at 92 degrees West longitude, replacing Brasilsat A2, a 14-year-old satellite based on the classic Hughes 376 design. The new satellite has one beam for national and South American service, and a second regional beam that focuses higher power on the major urban areas. The antenna also provides high-gain coverage for business networking in four cities: Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and S„o Paulo.
The Brasilsat A satellites started providing service in 1985 and 1986. They were built by Spar Aerospace Ltd. of Canada, under license to and with significant participation by HSC. Each carried 24 active transponders at C-band. As testimony to the reliability of the Hughes 376 design and the efficient operation by EMBRATEL, both Brasilsat A satellites are still in use, although in inclined orbit. (EMBRATEL operates A2, and has leased A1 to PanAmSat Corp.)
EMBRATEL signed a contract with HSC in August 1990 for two Brasilsat B spacecraft. Compared to their predecessors, the new satellites are not only 70 percent larger (12 feet in diameter vs. 7 feet, or 3.6 meters vs. 2.2 meters) and 60 percent more powerful, they also have greater capacity and employ advanced technologies. The extra power provides better performance without an increase in user costs. In December 1995, with those new satellites in orbit and rapidly filling with customers, EMBRATEL exercised an option for a third spacecraft. B4 was ordered in June 1998. The previous Brasilsat B satellites also rode on Ariane rockets — B1 on Aug. 10, 1994, B2 on March 28, 1995, and B3 on Feb. 4, 1998.
Brasilsat B4 is the seventh satellite to be launched this year for HSC, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites, which built nearly 40 percent of those in operation. It also is a major supplier of spacecraft and equipment to the U.S. government, and a builder of weather satellites for the United States and Japan.
HSC is a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, the world’s leading provider of digital television entertainment, and satellite and wireless systems and services. The earnings of Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors Corporation, are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock (NYSE:GMH). More information about HSC and Hughes Electronics can be found on their respective web sites, and