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RSCC (Russian Satellite Communications Company) says their new Express AT1 and Express AT2 satellites are being deployed following their dual launch on Sunday March 16 by a Proton M rocket.

Express AT1 will be commissioned following completion of in-orbit tests in April. Commercial operation of Express AT2 will start in May.

Express AT1 and AT2 are owned and operated by RSCC. They are high power Ku-band satellites designed to support expansion of digital services in the Russian Federation, complementing coverage of the European part of Russia provided by the EUTELSAT 36A and B satellites located at 36 degrees East.

Express AT1 will replace or suppliment an EUTELSAT 36A & 36B at 36 degrees East. Express AT1 will replace an existing satellite at 56 degrees East while Express AT2 will be located at 140 degrees East to deliver satellite broadcasting services to homes in Far East Russia.

Eutelsat has contracted 15-year leases for transponders across Express AT1 and AT2 that will principally serve their Tricolor TV and NTV Plus TV platforms. Eutelsat’s satellites provide ubiquitous coverage of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, with video, data, broadband and government communications.

Commercial Proton flights are managed by International Launch Services, a private spaceflight partnership between Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev and Energia, the Russian rocket company.

Russian federal missions, such as the launch of Express AT1 and Express AT2, are purchased directly through Khrunichev instead of ILS, notes Russian Space Web.

In May 2008, Khrunichev became the majority shareholder in ILS, although it remains a U.S. company, with headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

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