One of the most powerful satellites (Viasat-1) ever built has been put in orbit by a Russian Proton rocket.
The Viasat-1 spacecraft will carry broadband services to customers in the US and Canada. With a total data throughput of some 140 Gbps, the satellite has more capacity than all other communication satellites over North America combined.
Viasat-1 left Earth from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The lift-off for its carrier Proton rocket occurred at 00:48 local time (18:48 GMT Thursday). The flight was declared a success just over nine hours later.
Viasat-1 will be moved to a geosynchronous position at 115 degrees West, and should become fully operational in 2012 after a period of testing.The satellite carries the name of San Diego-based space technology supplier Viasat, but will be pressed into service for its satellite broadband division, Wildblue Communications.