The first European satellite to operate at Ka-Band frequencies, Eutelsat Communications’ KA-SAT, has been successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The ILS Proton vehicle lifted off at 21.51 GMT on December 26. After a 9 hour 12 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the KA-SAT satellite into geostationary transfer orbit.
The launch is the eighth commercial launch for ILS in 2010 and also the 12th Proton launch for the year.
“The launch of this High Throughput Satellite marks the opening of a new era for satellite-delivered broadband and data services across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. It is also new evidence of Eutelsat’s commitment to innovation that broadens the scope of satellite-based services in a rapidly-expanding digital economy,” explained Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen. “By combining a satellite equipped with more than 80 spotbeams and a network of ground stations, this new programme will deliver more capacity than any other satellite programme deployed worldwide. These new resources will in particular benefit Internet Service Providers, enabling them to extend broadband to consumers and enterprises in areas unserved by terrestrial networks”.
One potential client for the satellite is the Irish government, which has been considering the use of KA-SAT as a Freesat-style service that would fill in for blackspots in Ireland’s DTT footprint. The satellite will be stationed at Eutelsat’s 9 degrees East location, where Eurobird 9A has become a distribution hub for clients including Arqiva, RR Sat and Globecast. Hungarian DTH platform Hello HD also uses 9 degrees East as does Eutelsat’s own Kabelkiosk. KA-SAT will also boost the speeds of Eutelsat’s Tooway consumer broadband service by up to 10 Mbps.
Frank McKenna, president of ILS said, “We worked very closely with Eutelsat and Astrium to ensure the successful launch of the KA-SAT satellite on ILS Proton. We are honored to play an important role in the deployment of innovative programs and technologies such as KA-SAT, the first European satellite that will operate exclusively in high capacity Ka-band frequencies.”
The 6150 kg KA-SAT satellite was built on the Eurostar E3000 platform by Astrium and has a 15-year life expectancy. With its total capacity of 70 Gbps, KA-SAT is currently ranked as the world’s most powerful satellite. Through a configuration of 82 spot beams and a ground infrastructure of ten gateways connected to the Internet, KA-SAT will provide service across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.