Ariane Places WildBlue, SES Americom Satellites In Orbit

Arianespace performed the fifth and final Ariane 5 mission of 2006, placing the WildBlue-1 and AMC-18 spacecraft into orbit Dec. 8, Arianespace announced.

WildBlue-1, manufactured by Space Systems/Loral, will triple the capacity available to Colorado-based WildBlue Communications to provide its satellite broadband service. WildBlue currently offers service using leased capacity aboard Telesat Canada’s Anik F2 spacecraft, but the company’s growth has been limited by a lack of capacity in certain regions of the United States. WildBlue-1 is expected to begin operations in March, WildBlue said.

SES Americom’s AMC-18, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, will be used to provide broadcast coverage throughout North America the Caribbean and Mexico. Lockheed Martin will perform the transfer orbit operation, and SES Americom is expected to take over the spacecraft Dec. 19 to begin in-orbit testing.

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