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First German-built satellite in more than 25 years reaches orbit

The Spanish satellite was developed by Germans and launched on a Russian rocket from French Guiana. It carried the first implementation of a new satellite platform that Germany hopes to further roll out in coming years.

The first telecommunications satellite developed in Germany in over 25 years reached geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers (21,500 miles) above Earth on Friday night.

A Russian-built Soyuz-2 ST-B rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 10:03 p.m. local time, carrying into orbit the Hispasat 36W-1 satellite.

The Spanish satellite will supply South America and Europe, including the Canary Islands, with a wide range of telecommunications services such as improved bandwidth for multimedia.

The satellite, which had a mass of 3,220 kilograms (7,100 pounds) on takeoff, was built by OHB System AG in the German city of Bremen.

The device, which has a lifespan of 15 years, was the first application of the SmallGEO satellite platform developed by the multinational technology corporation as part of a program of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The telecommunications platform forms the basic framework of the satellite and can accommodate a wide range of commercial payloads and missions, such as TV broadcasting, multimedia applications, internet access and mobile or fixed services in a wide range of frequency bands.

The Hispasat 36W-1 satellite in Airbus Defence and Space’s Compact Antenna Test Range, Ottobrunn, Germany (ESA/P. Sebirot)

Hispasat 36W-1 is the first telecommunications satellite to use the SmallGEO platform

"SmallGEO's new, modular and flexible design boosts European industry's ability to play a significant role in commercial satcoms by easing entry into the lower mass-class telecom satellite market," an ESA description of the platform read.

According to the ESA, the 36W-1 is "the first telecommunications satellite designed, built and tested in Germany for a quarter of a century."

The German Aerospace Center, which conducts aerospace research and acts as the German space agency, said it aimed to regain lost ground in the space market for German industry.

It was the first launch of the year for the French launch services firm Arianespace, which plans to launch a total of 12 rockets in 2017 - one more than in 2016.

It was also the first time that a Soyuz launcher sent a telecommunications satellite of more than 3 tons into the geostationary transfer orbit, the ESA reported on its website.

The satellite cost about 240 million euros ($256 million).

aw/bw (dpa, AFP, EFE)

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