DirecTV is welcoming two new birds to its flock after the successful launch Wednesday afternoon of two satellites – DirecTV-15 and SKYM-1 – from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The new satellites, expected to begin operation in the third quarter of 2015, will backup DirecTV’s existing fleet while tacking on more capacity for HD and 4K/Ultra HD fare. Watch a replay of the launch here.
DirecTV-15 is an all CONUS (Continental United States, including Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico) beam satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space, and will be the first for the company to operate in all five DirecTV U.S. orbital slots and all frequency bands (Ku, Ka, and Reverse Band). It will be used to expand capacity for both HD and 4K channels, and provide backup for existing CONUS transponders, DirecTV said.
Designed for more than 15 years of service, D-15 will be positioned at 103 degrees West longitude.
Sky Mexico-1, built by Orbital ATK is Sky Mexico’s first owned-and-operated satellite. That satellite, to operate at 79 degrees West longitude for an expected life span of more than 18 years, will double HD capacity for Sky Mexico and provide direct-to-home broadcast services to Mexico, Central America, Cuba and the Caribbean.
Both satellites went up on a single Ariane 5 launch vehicle operated by Arianspace. Controllers made contact with both satellites confirming that all systems are functioning properly, DirecTV said.
“We congratulate the launch team and our partners, Arianespace, Airbus Defence and Space, and Orbital ATK on a spectacular and historic launch,” said Phil Goswitz, senior vice president, Space and Communications, DirecTV, in a statement. “D-15, the most versatile spacecraft in the fleet and the robust SKYM-1, secure DIRECTV’s ability to continue delivering the best video experience with the most advanced technology.”