A Russian Proton booster rocket took off late Sunday from the Baikonur space center in Russia with a European satellite that is to provide high-speed Internet links to over a million households in remote regions of Europe.
The Ka-Sat satellite weighing 6.1 tons was built by the Astrium company, a subsidiary of the aeronautics group EADS. Six meters long, the satellite will unfold solar panels spanning 40 meters.
Project operator, Eutelsat, said the satellite was to be put into a so-called transfer orbit after a nine-hour flight, with the first radio signals to be sent to it from the French control center at Rambouillet outside Paris.
Numerous tests on the Ka-Sat were to take place over the next three months before the satellite is then placed in its final orbital position in April 2011.
Eutelsat said the Ka-Sat has the capacity of 40 conventional TV satellites and was capable of supplying 2 million people with rapid access to data networks.
The company has additionally set up a network of 10 ground stations in Scandinavia, Germany, England, Spain and a number of Mediterranean islands.
The satellite will permit download rates of 10 megabits per second and uploads of 4 megabits per second in what Eutelsat says poses a quantum leap in the speed of data transmissions compared to current satellite-based Internet links.