Proton-M Rocket Lofts EchoStar 15 Satellite

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PARIS — An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket on July 11 successfully placed the EchoStar 15 direct-broadcast television satellite into geostationary transfer orbit in the fifth ILS commercial launch of 2010 and the seventh liftoff for Russia’s Proton vehicle, ILS and the satellite’s owner, Dish Network, said.

Operating from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Proton placed the 5,521-kilogram EchoStar 15 satellite into its planned intermediate orbit some nine hours and 13 minutes after liftoff following five burns of Proton’s upper-stage Breeze-M engine.

EchoStar 15 is a 1300 satellite platform built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., under a contract with EchoStar Satellite Services of Englewood, Colo., that was announced in April 2008.

EchoStar officials said the satellite’s delivery was ahead of schedule and will permit Dish Network to offer higher-power television services from its 61.5 degrees west orbital slot.

Rohan Zaveri, vice president of space programs at Englewood, Colo.-based EchoStar, which is a spinoff from Dish Network, said the new satellite, with a total capacity of more than 20 kilowatts, will permit Dish Network to deliver high-definition television with 300 watts of power per television channel. He said this is 20 to 30 percent more power than current satellite systems.

Dish can also use the extra power to provide more channels per satellite.

The launch followed the successful March liftoff of the EchoStar 14 satellite, also on an ILS Proton.

Reston, Va.-based ILS, which is owned by Proton builder Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, said it is on track to perform up to eight missions this year, not including the four or five Proton launches reserved for Russia’s government space program each year. The July 11 launch was the 24th Proton campaign in the past 24 months, when both commercial ILS and government missions are added together.