Video: Atlas launched
updated 4/20/2006 5:15:00 PM ET 2006-04-20T21:15:00

An international venture launched a U.S.-built, European-owned satellite from a Florida launch pad on Thursday to provide direct broadcast services across Europe in the years ahead.

The Astra 1KR telecommunications satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket. Lockheed Martin also designed and built the satellite for Luxembourg-based SES Astra, and the launch was provided through a Lockheed-led venture, International Launch Services.

The launch vehicle was the first Atlas 5 to fly with one strap-on, solid-rocket booster. A Centaur upper stage boosted the satellite toward its position in geosynchronous orbit.

Astra 1KR is to take its place among 13 other satellites in Astra's orbital constellation, delivering TV and radio channels as well as multimedia and Internet services to 107 million households in Europe. The new satellite will primarily replace two older satellites, Astra 1B and 1C.

Thursday's launch represents the third of seven launches planned this year for Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. EchoStar X was successfully launched in mid-February, and JCSAT-9 was launched on April 12.

This report is based on information from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force Space Command.

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