DirecTV Successfully Launches HD Satellite

DirecTV successfully launched its new HD-dedicated satellite (DirecTV 10) into the heavens last weekend, which the DBS company said marks the first big step in its quest to eventually provide the most HD channels of any TV content provider in North America.

The early-evening launch on July 6 from the nation of Kazakhstan propelled a Boeing-built 702 satellite into Earth orbit on a Russian-built Proton Breeze M vehicle. It is now in geosynchronous orbit at variable altitudes averaging about 22,000 miles. Flight controllers in South Africa had quickly made contact with the satellite last weekend and reported all systems were working well, according to DirecTV.

Following a round of testing, the satellite is set to begin operating by early September--when it will start to deliver the first of no less than several dozen national HD channels by the end of 2007. The DirecTV 10 satellite’s spot beam capacity should enable the DBS firm to expand local HD channel services to perhaps more than 70 markets within the next six months, the company said.

The next satellite, DirecTV 11, will be launched early next year to further increase HD capabilities.