ILS secure EchoStar launch – adds another 2008 Proton launch

by Chris Bergin

International Launch Services (ILS) have signed a deal with EchoStar Communications Corporation (DISH) for the launch of another – as yet un-named – satellite that will be added to their media communications fleet.

The 2008 Proton Breeze M launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is the second deal announced by ILS in less than a week, following the Ciel-2 satellite deal, which will also utilize the Proton launch vehicle.

ILS is a US/Russian company, aligned between Space Transportation Inc, and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia of Moscow, with exclusive rights for worldwide commercial sales and mission management of satellite launches on the Russian Proton.

ILS previously had rights with Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V, which reverted to primary use by the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

EchoStar themselves are no strangers to ILS, and have a long-standing relationship with the US/Russian company, that includes 100 percent success on all previous launches.

‘We are happy to have completed this order for a returning customer, and we are dedicated to performing reliably and on-schedule to support EchoStar,’ said ILS President Frank McKenna.

Strangely, upon asking ILS and EchoStar for further details on which satellite this deal was for, EchoStar noted they weren’t able to provide any more details. This leads to confusion on if this deal is for the EchoStar 13 (a.k.a CMBStar) or the EchoStar 14 satellite, or simply a future consideration statement.

Just six days ago, ILS announced they had added the Ciel-2 satellite to their 2008 manifest, which will be the inaugural launch undertaken by the Ciel Satellite Group, Canada’s newest satellite operator. SES AMERICOM Inc., a minority partner in Ciel, was the contracting agent for the launch.

This release of information did point to more exact details on the deal, naming the satellite that will be launches.

‘This award is a very important win for us,’ added McKenna. ‘We are pleased to have the opportunity to assist Ciel Satellite in bringing new services to Canada and the rest of North America.

‘We also welcome the expertise of SES AMERICOM, who assisted with the contract on behalf of Ciel. The SES family is a long-time, valued customer, for whom we have launched 11 satellites successfully on Proton.’

Ciel 2 is a Spacebus 4000 C4 model satellite, the largest Spacebus class satellite built by Alcatel Alenia, with a mass of 5,575 kg. From its assigned orbital position of 129 degrees West longitude, the high-powered Ku-band spacecraft will deliver a variety of communications services throughout Canada and the larger North American market.

‘Ciel is absolutely thrilled to be working with ILS on the launch campaign for Ciel-2,’ said David Lewis, president and chief executive officer of the Ciel Group.

‘Together the tremendous operational experience of the ILS team and the unmatched depth of our technical adviser, SES AMERICOM, offer Ciel the best possible support leading to the successful and timely delivery of Ciel-2 for operations at 129 degrees West.’

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