ILS Proton Lofts AsiaSat 7 into Transfer Orbit

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PARIS — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket successfully placed the AsiaSat 7 commercial telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit Nov. 26 for fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong, ILS and AsiaSat announced.

The launch, from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was the fifth commercial liftoff of the year for Reston, Va.-based ILS and the eighth overall Proton mission in 2011.

AsiaSat 7 weighed around 3,800 kilograms at launch, making it a relatively light payload for ILS, which focuses on larger satellites, carried solo by the heavy-lift Proton vehicle equipped with the Breeze-M upper stage. AsiaSat purchased the launch in October 2010 as part of a contract with ILS valued at $101 million.

Built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., AsiaSat 7 carries 28 C-band and 17 Ku-band transponders, and is equipped with a Ka-band payload as well.

It will replace the AsiaSat 3S satellite now stationed at 105.5 degrees east. AsiaSat 3S, a Boeing 601 model with 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders, was launched in March 1999 and has a contracted service life of 15 years.

AsiaSat Chief Executive William Wade said adding AsiaSat 7 to the company’s fleet so far in advance of AsiaSat 3S’s retirement will assure service continuity to existing AsiaSat customers and permit AsiaSat to solicit new business.

AsiaSat currently operates three satellites in orbit. In addition to AsiaSat 7, it has two spacecraft under contract, both with Loral, and expected to be delivered in 2014.