On this, the first of several missions planned for Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications, Sea Launch used the reliable Zenit-3SL rocket to lift the 4,737 kg (10,443 lb) EchoStar/Telstar 13 satellite to a 760 km perigee in geosynchronous transfer orbit. The launch originated from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned on the Equator at 154 degrees West Longitude. Following the successfully completed mission, the spacecraft was positioned into its final location in geostationary orbit at 121 degrees West Longitude.

Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) in Palo Alto, Calif., the satellite is based on SS/L's space-proven 1300 geostationary satellite platform, which has an excellent record of reliable operation. The 1300 spacecraft is designed to achieve a long life, in this case 15 years. It achieves high stability by using bipropellant propulsion and momentum-bias attitude control systems. A system of high-efficiency solar arrays and batteries provide uninterrupted electrical power.

The spacecraft includes Ku-band fixed satellite services (FSS) transponders that are designed to enhance EchoStar's current U.S. DISH Network satellite TV service. EchoStar IX will join EchoStar's current fleet of eight satellites that provide DISH Network customers with hundreds of all-digital television channels, including interactive TV services, sports programming, high definition television and international programming. The spacecraft is also equipped with one of the first commercial Ka-band spot-beam payloads.

In a unique satellite-sharing arrangement, EchoStar Communications Corporation, based in Littleton, Colo., owns and operates the Ku- and Ka-band payloads. Loral Skynet, another subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications, owns and operates the Telstar 13 C-band capacity. From its ideal orbital location and its 24 C-band transponders operating at 36 MHz, Telstar 13 will provide cable programmers with coverage of North America, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central America.