HOT BIRDô 8 satellite arrives at Baikonur Cosmodrome

The HOT BIRDTM 8 broadcasting satellite built by EADS Astrium for Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) arrived this morning at the Baikonur Cosmodrome for launch on a Proton M Breeze M vehicle provided by ILS. Launch is scheduled in the night of 4 to 5 August.

Weighing in on the launchpad at 4.9 tonnes and equipped with 64 Ku-band transponders, HOT BIRDô 8 will be the largest satellite yet orbited by Eutelsat. Designed for television and radio broadcasting it will be positioned at 13 degrees East, Eutelsatís prime video neighbourhood, which delivers 950 television channels and 600 radio stations to 110 million cable and satellite homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The satelliteís mission is to replace the 20 transponders on the HOT BIRDô 3 satellite, which will continue service at a new location. In conjunction with HOT BIRDô 7A, which was launched in February 2006, it will also contribute to raising in-orbit redundancy at Eutelsatís HOT BIRDô neighbourhood.

Prime contractor: EADS Astrium
Platform: Eurostar 3000
Mission: TV and radio broadcasting
Orbital: position 13 degrees East
Coverage: Europe, North Africa, Middle East
Launcher: Proton M Breeze M
Span in-orbit: 39 m with solar panels deployed
Launch mass: 4875 kg
Life span: > 15 yrs
Payload: 64 Ku-band transponders
Electric power: 13 kW
Downlink frequencies: 10.70 - 12.75 GHz

This is ILS' second Proton mission of the year and fourth launch overall for 2006. ILS suspended missions with the Breeze M upper stage after a Feb. 28 launch failed to place the Arabsat 4A satellite into the correct orbit. ILS is ready to return to flight with its Proton M/Breeze M vehicle now that a Russian State Commission and an independent review panel have concluded their inquiries into that failure.

"As we start the launch campaign, we acknowledge the confidence of our long-standing customer Eutelsat in the Proton M/Breeze M vehicle," said ILS President Mark Albrecht.

"The Proton M launch vehicle has a 100 percent success rate, and the reliability of the Breeze M upper stage remains one of the highest in the industry," Albrecht said. "With the arrival of the satellite, all the flight hardware is in place to start operations."

ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Russia. Based in McLean, Va., ILS markets commercial launch missions on the Lockheed Martin Atlas and the Khrunichev-built Proton vehicles to satellite operators worldwide.