Baikonur preparing to launch American Direct TV8 spacecraft

On the Baikonur cosmodrome, preparations have begun to launch an American telecommunications spacecraft - Direct TV8, says a press release of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos).

The American satellite is meant for radio and television broadcasting to the continental part of the U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.

"The telecommunications satellite that arrived at the cosmodrome on April 16 is in the vehicle assembly building, site 92A-50. On April 18 the installation of ground-based checking equipment was completed, and today American specialists began checking the spacecraft," says the release.

It is noted in Roskosmos that Direc TV8 is expected to be launched into a geostationary orbit on May 21, 2005 by a Proton-M heavy-class carrier rocket.

The rocket is expected to arrive at the cosmodrome on April 19-20 by rail.

The press-service of the Baikonur federal space center reports that parallel with preparations for launching the American spacecraft the cosmodrome began electric tests of a scientific spacecraft, Foton-M.

"The satellite is being prepared in the vehicle assembly building on site n112 of the cosmodrome. The Foton-M weighs about 6,500 kilograms. It is intended for scientific and technological experiments in conditions of micro-gravitation," says the report.

The blast-off of the Foton-M from the first site of the Baikonur cosmodrome is planned for May 31, 2005.

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