Russia’s new Express-AM4 satellite to bring digital television to Far East

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, August 18 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s new Express-AM4 satellite to bring digital television to the Far East and help to test satellite Internet technologies, Minister of Mass Communications Igor Shchegolev said.

“This is one of the most advanced telecom satellites not only for Russia but in general,” he said.

“The networks we have been building since last year are waiting for this satellite,” the minister said, adding that it would cover Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk Territory and Kuril Islands, where the construction of digital television infrastructure started on a priority basis.

In the future, the satellite will provide digital television services in other Russian regions as well.

By the end of 2013, Russia plans to launch another six telecom satellites.

Shchegolev said earlier that his ministry was planning to deploy communication satellites for two million users in 2014.

“This is going to be a new satellite system in the so-called K-band of above 18 GHz,” he said.

To this end, the ministry plans to launch three light spacecraft to a geostationary orbit that will be complemented by a network of ground-based stations.

“There is already a stock of on-board relaying stations, and research and production facilities for making spacecraft,” the minister added.

“We expect the subscriber access system will cost no more than 8,000 roubles, and the user will pay no more than 50 roubles per one gigabyte of information,” Shchegolev said.

The ministry is approving technical specifications and determining the developer of the systemic project for providing broadband access to information networks using K-band satellite communication technology.

“When creating the space communication system it is especially important to ensure effective public-private partnership,” Shchegolev said.

Russia will invest 38 billion roubles in the upgrading its communication satellites by 2015.

The state and technical possibilities of the satellites cannot fully meet the growing demand for space communication services for state needs, the development of digital television, the implementation of priority national projects and stable operation of existing satellite communication networks, Shchegolev said.

He said the Federal Communications Agency and Space Communications had submitted proposals regarding the development of Russia’s space communications assets.

Shchegolev urged the governmental commission on federal communications and information technologies to examine Space Communications’ tariff policy in respect of the satellites in order to work out measures that will enhance competitive advantages for Russian and foreign satellite operators and to create conditions for maintaining and developing Russian space assets using internal resources and minimum budget appropriations.

A heavy Proton-M carrier rocket with the Russian communications satellite Express-AM4 aboard blasted off from Baikonur on August 18.

“The active leg of the Proton’s flight will continue for approximately 582 seconds, after which the orbital unit consisting of the satellite and the Briz-M booster will start flying on its own,” the spokesman for the Khrunichev State Space Scientific Production Centre, Alexander Bobrenev, said.

“The sustainer engine will be activated five times to push the orbital unit from the sub-orbital trajectory with an inclination of 51.55 degrees to the target orbit where the satellite is to separate,” he said.

“The total time from the lift-off to separation is 9 hours 13 minutes. In the geostationary orbit the satellite will take a spot at 80 degrees east longitude,” the spokesman said.

The new Express-AM4 satellite was created by Khruinichev in association with Europe’s EADS Astrium, which supplied the payload module. The satellite is based on the well-proven satellite platform Eurostar E3000, which is used by leading international operators of satellite communication services. The satellite weighs 1,450 kilograms and is designed to operate for 15 years.

It is equipped with 63 transponders in C-, Ku-, Ka-and L-bands. Its antennas provide sustainable coverage of almost the entire territory of Russia as well as of the CIS and Central Europe.

The satellite is designed for providing a package of communications services (digital television, telephony, video conferencing, data transmission, access to the Internet) and for creating communication networks based on the VSAT technology.

“During the launch of Express-AM4 the falling area for the first stage and fairing will be located in the Karaganda region, Kazakhstan, for the second stage, in the Altai Republic, and for the third stage, in the Pacific Ocean,” the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said.

The Proton-M carrier rocket has three stages and is equipped with liquid propellant engines. Its takeoff weight is 700 tonnes.

Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said, “This launch shows that Roscosmos is changing its priorities. The main priority for us now is to meet Russia’s demand for satellite information, primarily communications and television”.

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