ESA launches largest commercial telecom satellite

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Friday, July 3, 2009

The TerreStar-1, an American communications satellite operated by TerreStar Corporation was launched Wednesday by an Ariane 5ECA rocket at 17:52 GMT by the European Space Agency (ESA) from the ELA-3 at the Guiana Space Centre. The 6,910-kilogram (15,200 lb) TerreStar-1 satellite cost US$300 million. It was launched from Kourou, French Guiana, a department of France in South America. This satellite weighs in as the heaviest and the largest telecommunications satellite ever launched.

File photo of Ariane launched from the Guiana Space Centre in 1992.

AT&T Mobility along with TerreStar Corporation will market a hybrid prototype terrestrial/satellite hand set yet this year. The technology will allow the new hand set to operate on ground-based phone networks. In dead zones, the customer could use the device via satellite if they can access the southern sky similar to a satellite dish.

The TerreStar-1 made a successful separation from the rocket according to Arianespace, the French satellite launcher. The satellite will be in orbit 22,000 miles (35,200 kilometers) above earth, and will open a 60 feet (18 meters) antenna dish to communicate with the hand sets over the 2 GHz (S-band) spectrum. The TerreStar-1 has a life expectancy of 15 years.