Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- After a few equipment-related and
weather-related postponements, EchoStar Communications Corp.'s EchoStar V satellite
launched successfully last Thursday morning, the company said.
EchoStar said the satellite reached geosynchronous transfer
orbit after a 2:02 a.m. launch on a Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIAS rocket.
The launch was originally scheduled for Sept. 10, but it
was delayed twice, most recently by Hurricane Floyd and Tropical Storm Harvey. Earlier,
EchoStar and Lockheed Martin engineers said they wanted time to analyze a remote-control
unit that had failed factory testing.
The satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, is intended to
add 150 channels of capacity to what EchoStar now counts as 350 channels. The satellite
will operate from 110 degrees west longitude -- the location EchoStar bought from American
Sky Broadcasting Inc., the ill-fated joint venture of MCI WorldCom Inc. and News Corp.
EchoStar plans to offer a service using a small-aperture
satellite dish that can see satellites at 110 and degrees, where other Dish Network
satellites operate. EchoStar also operates a satellite at 61.5 degrees.
The Englewood, Colo.-based company also plans to offer
retransmitted local broadcast stations in selected markets, contingent on Congress passing
related legislation. Other uses for the new bird include interactive-television and
EchoStar said it plans to launch its sixth satellite in the
first quarter of 2000.