Sweden's biggest space effort ready for takeoff
November 5, 2007
The Sirius 4 satellite, Sweden’s biggest space investment ever, is now complete. The launch of Sirius into its orbit is planned for 18 November. Sirius will satisfy the growing market demand for bandwidth from applications such as future HDTV transmissions.
Sirius 4 has passed all the comprehensive tests at Lockheed Martin in California, where it was subjected to extreme conditions similar to those it will experience during the launch and in service. It has now been shipped from California on the west coast of the USA to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in Central Asia. There, it will be docked with the Proton rocket which will carry the satellite into space.
Sirius 4 will be positioned in a geostationary orbit 36 000 km above the surface of the earth. At that altitude, the orbiting period is 24 hours. This means that the satellites are stationary relative to the ground.
Sirius 4 will operate for at least 15 years and will provide the Nordic countries, the Baltic, Central and Eastern Europe and South Africa with television, radio and broadband communications. Day-to-day operation will be managed by the Swedish Space Corporation ("Rymdbolaget"), which owns 25 percent of SES SIRIUS.
One reason for investing billions of kronor in Sirius is that the television market is undergoing a transformation with the switch to HD transmissions. This brings with it a dramatic increase in demand for bandwidth.
"The demand for HD channels will increase sharply in the years ahead, and we operators need to be prepared in terms of capacity. An HD transmission needs 16 Mbit/s of bandwidth, compared with 4 Mbit/s for an "ordinary" transmission. Sirius 4 will also provide us with better geographic coverage to the east, which means new business opportunities in new markets," says Håkan Sjödin, Managing Director of SES Sirius.
Currently SES Sirius has two communications satellites - Sirius 2 and Sirius 3 - which already cover all of Europe. The billion-kronor Sirius 4 project is a very powerful addition to the family, with a capacity ten times that of Sweden's entire terrestrial network.
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