Intelsat 20, a new communications satellite that will serve the future needs of MultiChoice, which owns pay-TV service DStv, blasted successfully into space overnight aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana.
Lift-off occured at 10.54pm SA time on Thursday night. At 28 minutes after launch, at 11.22pm, the Intelsat 20 satellite separated from the rocket’s upper stage and continued its ascent toward geosynchronous orbit. Signal acquisition occurred at 11.33pm SA time.
Built by Space Systems/Loral, Intelsat 20 will provide C-band and Ku-band for direct-to-home television, cellular backhaul and VSat services. The Intelsat 20 video neighbourhood provides premium programming that is carried by the top Indian cable companies and direct-to-home operators, reaching about 90m pay-TV subscribers in India. Intelsat 20 also hosts the largest direct-to-home platform in Africa, in the form of MultiChoice.
MultiChoice has secured significantly more capacity on the satellite for new channels and high-definition services. Intelsat 20 was manufactured in California and has 24 C-band and 60 Ku-band transponders. MultiChoice, which was known to be running low on capacity on the existing Intelsat 7 satellite, will use the Ku band for DStv services.
Once operational in September, Intelsat 20 will replace Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 10 at 68,5 degrees east and is expected to have a service life of more than 18 years.
Intelsat 20 is the third of five launches planned for 2012. Intelsat 21 and Intelsat 23 are also scheduled for launch in the third quarter. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media