ILS Proton Rocket Launches AsiaSat 5 Satellite

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PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket on Aug. 12 successfully placed Hong Kong-based AsiaSat’s AsiaSat 5 commercial telecommunications satellite into orbit, and the satellite has sent early signals indicating its health, AsiaSat and Reston, Va.-based ILS announced.

AsiaSat 5, which weighed about 3,760 kilograms at launch, will replace the AsiaSat 2 satellite at 100.5 degrees east. AsiaSat 5 is equipped with 26 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders. It features a pan-Asian C-band beam covering a region stretching from Russia to New Zealand, and from the Middle East and parts of Africa to Japan.

AsiaSat 5 was built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., under a contract valued at $95 million. Loral has also started construction of a satellite tentatively named AsiaSat 5C. AsiaSat 5C was to have been available in the event the AsiaSat 5 launch failed. AsiaSat said it will now deploy the new spacecraft to a yet-undisclosed orbital slot.

The launch occurred from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. AsiaSat 5 was separated from the rocket’s Breeze-M upper stage some nine hours and 15 minutes after liftoff. It was the fourth commercial mission for ILS in 2009 and the sixth Proton launch for the year. The same Proton rocket is used for ILS commercial and Russian government launches.

AsiaSat in February announced its decision to launch AsiaSat 5 with an ILS Proton following launch delays in the Land Launch commercial-launch system marketed by Sea Launch Co. of Long Beach, Calif. The switch in launchers cost AsiaSat about $35 million in extra launch fees. The entire AsiaSat 5 program — satellite, launch and insurance — is valued at $215 million, according to AsiaSat.