Astra 2G arrives safely at launch site

International Launch Services (ILS) has confirmed that new satellite Astra 2G has arrived safely in Baikonur Cosmodrome after an emergency landing en-route from France to Kazakhstan.

Astra 2G is satellite operator SES's latest satellite to head for the 28.2/5 degrees East orbital position, the position used for UK Sky and Freesat channels. Astra 2G joins Astra 2E and F, and is the final part of a renewal programme, which is expected to enable the original first generation Astra 2 and Eutelsat satellites, which were brought into service during the early days of digital satellite TV, to retire.

Although the press release from ILS doesn't name a launch date, Russian media has reported the launch as scheduled for 28th November. If all goes to plan, Astra 2G will be able to start broadcasting Sky and Freesat channels to the UK and Republic of Ireland anytime from February 2015. Astra 2G is expected to take over the load from aging satellites Astra 2A and Eutelsat 28A, which currently carry a mixture of Sky subscription channels and pan-European free-to-air channels.

Astra 2G is not expected to have any impact on the main UK TV and radio services, such as BBC and ITV channels, which have already migrated to the newer Astra 2E/F satellites. The migration, which completed in February 2014, created a fuss in ex-pat communities due to a smaller footprint being used resulting in some viewers on the continent losing access the affected UK channels. Astra 2G will offer UK and Irish broadcasters the option to broadcast across the whole of Europe or to switch to the narrow UK spotbeam.



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