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Interview with Yuri Izmaylov, Director General and CEO, RSCC. APSCC newsletter, April 2008

RSCC is the state satellite operator of Russia and takes the sixth place among the world satellite operators in terms of orbital slots and frequency resources. On 28 January 2008, RSCC successfully launched the new telecommunications satellite Express-AM33 that became the first spacecraft of the Program of renovating and developing the company’s satellite constellation till 2015. APSCC has questioned Yuri Izmailov, the company’s Director General, about the 40th anniversary of the one of the oldest world satellite operators, about the main outcomes of RSCC’ activity during the last 12 months as well as about the satellite constellation development.

2007 was a very intensive year for the company. We continued developing the new spacecraft Express-AM33 and Express-AM44 as well as Express-MD1 which will be launched in 2008. The first of the satellites Express-AM33 was successfully launched into GEO in January 2008.

RSCC ensures federal broadcasting and TV&Radio package generation in MPEG-2/DVB standard  for all five broadcasting zones of the Russian Federation. Besides, in order to reduce the digital broadcasting costs and to increase the number of programs transmitted, we have developed a new complex of  MPEG-4 program generation.  Using  the  MPEG-4/AVC  standard will enable increasing the number of  digital programs transmitted via one 36 MHz  transponder by 2.5 to 3 times, that resulting in TV&Radio broadcasters concernment in increase of  the territory and volume of broadcasting.

In 2007 the Direct-to-Home broadcast systems made rapid progress owing to which the Bonum-1 and W4 satellites have been loaded practically up to 100%.

RSCC took active part in deployment of VSAT networks for providing universal communications services and broadband Internet access for educational institutions nationwide. To implement these projects RSCC established of about 100 satellite communications channels with using three Express-AM series satellites and tested more than 7.5 thousand VSAT stations in 62 regions of Russia. Such a project is unprecedented one for Russia. Literally, 2007 became a VSAT year in Russia.

We acquired unique experience in Summer 2007 while providing the Arctic expedition headed by Arthur Chilingarov, the famous Russian polar explorer, with communications services. We faced a very important task to provide a satellite channel for online video transmissions from the meridian convergence point. The territories beyond the polar circle are unavailable for geostationary satellites, thus the Molniya satellites on the high-elliptical orbit were used. The spacecraft was in the field of vision for maximum 2 hours, but wide community could observe settling down the Mir manned deep-diving vehicles at a depth of 4 km. 
 
Tell us in more details about the Express-AM33 and its purpose. How will it strengthen the RSCC’ constellation?

The Express-AM3 satellite is the first spacecraft launched in the context of the RSCC’  satellite constellation renovation program for 2006 till 2015. The new satellite will enable us to overcome the shortage of in-orbit capacity on the Russian market which arose particularly due to implementing the Federal projects of connecting all Russian schools to the Internet and launching the universal communications services. Express-AM33 will be used for providing digital multi-program TV&Radio broadcasting in Russia and for further development of VSAT networks.

The distinctive feature of the new satellite is the C- and Ku-band steerable antennas which allow us to tailor the spacecraft footprints to changing demands of the market.

The capabilities of the new spacecraft will satisfy the growing demands of customers for the cutting-edge telecommunications services including  HDTV, multimedia services and multifunctional VSAT networks. We see a high demand for Express-AM33 services.

In April 2008 we expect the Express-AM44 payload to be delivered. The technical parameters of the Express-AM44 satellite are similar to those of Express-AM33, the satellite will carry powerful steerable C- and Ku-band antennas to provide digital TV&Radio broadcasting, broadband Internet access, VSAT multi-service network deployment as well as to develop new services and multi-media applications. In addition, the satellite is equipped with the L-band transponder for the mobile presidential and governmental communications.

RSCC plans to launch the Express-AM44 satellite in the 3rd Quarter 2008 at 11 West orbital slot. The satellite is supposed to be used for providing telecommunications services over the European part of Russia, other European countries and the Middle East.

The development of the Express-MD1 and Express-MD2 satellites is under way. The Express-MD1 is scheduled to be delivered onto the orbit  together with the Express-AM44 satellite.

The next stage is developing several principally new spacecraft. In 2007, we finished the negotiations with manufacturers in relation to the new configuration for the Express-AM4 satellite on the basis of a powerful satellite platform capable of supplying 15 kW power  for the payload. The service life will increase up to 15 years and the new satellite will carry above 50 transponders. The satellite will be equipped with Ka-band transponders as well as extended L-band for the mobile communications for the sake of the state authorities.

The company is going to use not only the geostationary but also the high-elliptical orbit in order to provide the regions unavailable for geostationary satellites with telecommunications services. This is a new business line which requires large investments. The Express-RV satellites are supposed to carry more advanced transponders and a require a new telemetry tracking & control system. 

At present, RSCC provides telecommunications services to 35 countries, the company’s satellites cover the whole territory from the eastern coast of America up to Australia. Strengthening the company’s positions on the satellite world market is one of our strategic aims. The Express-AM satellites are located  at slots enabling informational bridges West –East and Europe – Asia, thus the interest of companies from Asia in our services is very significant. Customers from Mongolia, Singapore, Pakistan and India are working via Express-AM satellites. We develop cooperation with China and Indochina.

At present, the relations between Russia and Asia develop very rapidly and an important prerequisite for improving co-operation. is securing reliable telecommunications services in these two regions

RSCC celebrated its 40th anniversary in November 2007. The company’s history goes back    to the date of transmitting the first satellite  TV & Radio broadcast signal  to the Far East and Siberia. The Molniya spacecraft on the high-elliptical orbit became the first telecommunications satellites used for civil purposes. They transmitted one TV and two radio programs and were used for telephony,  telegraphic communications and newspapers page transmission as well.

The success of RSCC bases on the specialists working for the company. Our highly qualified personnel, having great experience on the satellite market, secure a high level of servicing our customers and co-operating with our partners.

RSCC believes that the satellite communications are one of the most important components of establishing the common information space and the market of available digital communications services. To satisfy needs for developing satellite communications services in Russia as well as strengthening our positions on the world market till 2015, we intend to manufacture and put into orbit  minimum 15 advanced spacecraft. The Program till 2015 envisages also enlargement of  the Russian satellite footprints and re-arrangement of the spacecraft for the purpose of its optimization. It will enable required backing-up of the constellation, increasing communications services volume and  providing the global coverage for the mobile presidential and governmental communications.

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