SES launched Astra 1A on December 11th 1988, twenty-five years ago. While it took a few weeks for the satellite to be tested in orbit, the launch represented the first high-power satellite over Europe to be able to broadcast DTH signals to small domestic dishes.
The satellite’s signals covered most of Europe, and over the following year quickly gained the support of Sky Television, a few Scandinavian broadcasters (TV3 and TV1000), German broadcasters in the shape of Pro7, Sat1, RTL+, 3sat and Teleclub, as well as Filmnet, Screensport, MTV Europe, The Children’s Channel and Lifestyle.
Filmnet was the first satellite channel to go live (on February 1st 1989) while the Rupert Murdoch-backed portfolio of Sky channels came to air during February. The craft was ‘full’ by June 1990.
The satellite was originally designed to broadcast for 12 years. It worked on station at 19.2 degrees East for 16 years, and was then relocated to 5.2 degrees where it worked from 2001-2004. It was decommissioned in December 2004.