Despite a minor delay, Cablevision Systems Corp. successfully launched its
Rainbow 1 satellite -- the delivery vehicle for its Rainbow DBS direct-broadcast
satellite service -- Thursday night.
The 195-foot Atlas V rocket was scheduled to lift off at 7:20 p.m. EST
Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. However, a trio of minor setbacks -- a helium
leak on one of the boosters on the rocket, a problem with a fill-and-drain valve
on one of its Centaur upper stages and the appearance of "anvil clouds" (the
remnants of a thunder storm) that drifted within a 10-nautical-mile radius of
the launch path -- pushed ignition back to 7:45 p.m.
At about 7:30 p.m., all three conditions were resolved.
Despite the 25-minute delay, Rainbow 1 launched well within its window of
between 7:20 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The launch was broadcast live on ilslaunch.com , the Web site of International
Launch Services, a partnership led by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. that
conducts commercial satellite launches.
The Ku-band satellite, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space
Systems, is equipped with 36 transponders and 22 programmable spot beams, and it
was expected to cover 80%-90% of the United States.
As of 8:14 p.m., the satellite was in the middle of an hour-long "coast"
phase that will bring it to its final destination, the 61.5 degrees west
longitude orbital slot.
Cablevision plans to begin offering the Rainbow DBS service -- with more than
100 channels, including several HDTV channels -- in October.