From its equatorial launch site at 154 degrees West Longitude, a Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted the 6080 kg (about 13,376 lbs.) Spaceway satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), on its way to a final orbital position at 102.8 degrees West Longitude.
Built on a powerful Boeing 702 model bus, this is the first of two spacecraft scheduled for launch this year for DIRECTV and the most complex commercial satellite system ever built. The Boeing 702 spacecraft, with a design life of 12 years, was manufactured by Boeing's Satellite Development Center at the company's one-million-square-feet satellite manufacturing, integration and test complex in El Segundo, Calif. The spacecraft includes a flexible payload with a fully steerable downlink antenna that can be reconfigured on orbit to seamlessly address market conditions.
This is Sea Launch's third mission for DIRECTV. The spacecraft is one of four Boeing-built Ka-band satellites that DIRECTV has scheduled for launch over the next three years as part of a historic expansion of programming capacity that will enable DIRECTV to deliver more than 1,500 local and national High Definition channels and other advanced programming services to consumers nationwide by 2007. The DIRECTV Group, Inc. is a world-leading provider of digital multichannel television entertainment, broadband satellite networks and services. The DIRECTV Group is 34 percent owned by Fox Entertainment Group, which is approximately 82 percent owned by News Corporation.