EchoStar Launches 7th Satellite

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EchoStar Communications Corp. officials witnessed the successful launch of the company's seventh direct-broadcast satellite last Thursday morning.

EchoStar VII lifted off at 7:43 a.m., following a brief delay caused by concerns over local wind conditions at the Cape Canaveral, Fla., launch site.

Roughly an hour after the launch — after EchoStar received word of spacecraft acquisition — chairman Charlie Ergen offered a few comments, televised live to Dish Network subscribers.

"It was a long night, but well worth it," Ergen said, after thanking his partners at Lockheed Martin Corp. and International Launch Services for their work with the satellite construction and launch.

Ergen said EchoStar would use the new bird to add more channels, serve as a backup in space and launch local broadcast-TV service in Alaska and Hawaii. The new satellite is expected to go live in April, following extensive testing.

"We have a lot of work to do up in Cheyenne, [Wyo.]," where the company has a satellite uplink facility, Ergen said.

Lockheed and ILS are expected to help launch the EchoStar VIII satellite later this year.

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