Astra 2F - one month until lift off for new satellite serving UK

Satellite operator SES has confirmed that the Astra 2F satellite - which will be used for UK satellite television - has arrived at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, where it will now be processed for launch aboard an Ariane V rocket.

The satellite is expected to launch on the 21st September 2012- weather permitting. The EADS Astrium-built satellite will be located at 28.2 degrees East and will be used to transmit services in the Ku- and Ka- frequency bands.

According to SES, 28.2 degrees East is one of its "prime orbital positions" serving broadcasters including  BSkyB, the BBC, ITV Channel 4 and Channel 5 for audiences across the UK and Ireland. In addition, 28.2 degrees East is also increasingly used to broadcast numerous channels to sub-Saharan Africa.

"Astra 2F has an important mission to ensure fleet continuity at 28.2 degrees East, well ahead of the end of life of the current ASTRA satellites located at this orbital position," said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer of SES in a press release published today.

Astra 2F will launch before Astra 2E, knocking the alphabetical naming of the satellites out of sync. Astra 2E will be the next satellite to launch after Astra 2F and is expected to launch during the second quarter of 2013. Astra 1N, which was brought in to temporarily plug the gap between Astra 2D being decommissioned and further Astra 2 satellites being launched will be moved to the Astra 1 orbital position of 19.2 degrees East and serve viewers and broadcasters on the Continent once services can be safely transferred to the new satellite.

There is expected to be more UK spot-beam capacity for free-to-air broadcasters once all new Astra 2 satellites are up and running.
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