The year's first satellite launch took place from Cape Canaveral on 10 January, when a Martin Marietta Atlas 2AS rocket carried the Space Systems/Loral Intelsat 704 communications satellite (comsat) into an initial orbit en route to geostationary orbit.

The international satellite communications organisation, which has 134 countries as members, says that the launch of the 704 begins an "aggressive campaign" to put additional communications capacity into orbit in 1995.

The 36 C- and Ku-band- transponder spacecraft will be placed at 66¡E in geostationary orbit, to be the first of the Intelsat 7 series to provide services to the Indian Ocean region, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Intelsat will also lease transponders aboard India's Insat 2E satellite, to be launched in 1997, for $100 million a year. The Insat system is the country's largest domestic satellite system and two new launches, the Insat 2C and 2D are planned in 1995/6. India hopes that the Insat will also play a significant role in the growth of the Asia Pacific market.

Four more Intelsat satellites are due for launches this year, one of which will be carried on another Atlas 2AS, among the remaining ten planned launches by Martin Marietta this year (see box). Two will be flown on Ariane 4s and one will be on a Chinese Long March 3B.

Intelsat has made the "largest placement of satellite-launch insurance ever undertaken in the industry", covering ten Intelsat satellite launches (Intelsat 706-709 and 801-806) aboard Ariane, Atlas and Long March vehicles.

A $185 million premium has been paid to cover the satellite and launch-vehicle costs of about $2 billion. Insurance for the 704 and 705 models on the Atlas had already been placed.

Source: Flight International