Proton Launches Sirius FM-5 Satellite

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PARIS — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket on July 1 successfully placed Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Sirius FM-5 direct-broadcast radio satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, a satellite New York-based Sirius said will add backup capacity to the three existing Sirius satellites.

The Proton’s Breeze upper stage placed the 5,280-kilogram Sirius FM-5 into orbit some nine hours and 14 minutes after liftoff from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite, which manufacturer Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., said is one of the most powerful commercial spacecraft ever built, is designed to provide more than 20 kilowatts of power at the end of its 15-year service life.

In addition to the four satellites now in orbit, Sirius has a ground spare satellite, called FM-4, already built.

The current Sirius satellite constellation consists of three spacecraft in highly elliptical orbits whose apogees are over North America. The FM-5 launched July 1 is Sirius’ first geostationary-orbit spacecraft and will operate at 96 degrees west longitude to provide backup to the current fleet and improve radio-broadcast availability for some customers.

The satellite features a 9-meter-diameter deployable antenna built by Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla.

The launch was the third in 2009 for Reston, Va.-based ILS, which said its next launch, of the AsiaSat-5 satellite for AsiaSat of Hong Kong, will occur in early August.