The New DirecTV Birds
The DirecTV 10 and 11 satellites will be built by The Boeing Co. [BA] and launched in 2007. The two orbiters will be among the largest and most powerful Ka- band satellites ever launched. The satellites use advanced transmission techniques and state-of-the-art video compression technology to support spot beams that would carry local HD broadcast channels in all 50 states. Boeing also will build a third satellite for DirecTV that will serve as a ground spare.
The satellite-manufacturing arm of Boeing was owned many years ago by Hughes Electronics, which was sold to News Corp last year and renamed The DirecTV Group. Without those ownership ties, it is especially significant that Boeing was able to obtain the contract in a competitive-bidding situation when new satellite orders are scarce. The new satellite orders are important for Boeing, whose reputation has suffered mightily during recent years due to a series of in-orbit anomalies that have shortened the life of a number of the satellites it has built.