The launch was declared a success early Friday after Nimiq 6, carried by a Proton Breeze M rocket, successfully flew through the initial liftoff in Kazakhstan at 3:12 Eastern, and separated from the multi-stage rocket some nine hours later after several engine fires.
Nimiq 6 still needs to be maneuvered to the proper geostationary position in Earth orbit over Canada to provide specialty video and other services. Ottawa-based Telesat will test that all systems are working properly before certifying Nimiq 6 for service early this summer.
The amount to build and launch Nimiq 6 was not disclosed for competitive reasons, but a 2002 report from aerospace consulting firm Futron noted a typical Proton launch costs $85 million.
That cost would not include the tens of millions of dollars required for building, testing and transporting the satellite that goes on board.
Nimiq 6, which weighs about 4,500 kilograms, was constructed by California-based Space Systems/Loral, the manufacturing business of Telesat co-owner Loral Space and Communications Inc.
Revenues for the satellite will come from Bell TV, Telesat's largest customer. Bell TV agreed in 2009 to fully lease Nimiq 6 for Canadian subscribers.
"Nimiq 6 will result in meaningful incremental revenue and (unadjusted earnings) for Telesat and, given that Bell TV has leased all of the satellite's capacity for its expected lifetime, it significantly increases Telesat's already industry-leading contractual backlog to revenue ratio," stated CEO Dan Goldberg in a 2009 press release.
In a release issued Friday morning, Mr. Goldberg stated Nimiq 6 would begin contributing to revenues in this fiscal year.
According to International Launch Services, which launched the rocket, its relationship with Telesat spans 12 years and eight satellites launched so far.
In late April, Telesat reported its quarterly net income fell 14 per cent year-over-year to $99 million due to reduced revenues from an undisclosed satellite that provides direct-to-home service. This was partially offset by revenue growth in international satellites and some additional money from the Canadian payload on ViaSat-1, which provides satellite broadband services.
The satellite services operator has 13 satellites in orbit and plans to launch a 14th into space later in 2012. The City of Ottawa recently honoured the Nimiq line of satellites through renaming a local facility Nimiq Park.