Telenor’s fifth satellite has been successfully launched on board the Proton Breeze M in Baikonor. Thor 5 began its journey at 17.34 local time (11.34 GMT) on a crisp early evening offering temperatures of -24C. The first/second stage separation was clearly visible to onlookers from the Proton Club, fortified by copious amounts of locally produced vodka, about 8km away from launch pad 39.
The ignition and switch off were described as ‘nominal’, meaning the satellite is well on course for a successful deployment. Cato Halsaa, CEO Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, said the launch represented a commitment towards space activities and satellite. “This is the first phase of our expansion programme, and together with Thor 6, coming next year, our capacity will be doubled.”
Thor 5 will be tested at 16.5 degrees West before being moved to One degree West in around four weeks. The Orbital Sciences-built satellite will bring 24 transponders to the One degree West position, replacing in part Thor 2, and representing 200 SD or 80 HD channels. 15 of the beams will cover the Nordic region, while the remaining nine are on a pan-European switchable beam.
Halsaa told Broadband TV News he was evaluating the options for the future use of Thor 2. In the immediate term it would be used as a back-up for 1 West before a final decision, with a number of operators interested in its purchase.