An anonymous reader sends news that TerreStar-1, the largest satellite ever made for the purpose of telecommunications, successfully launched earlier this week
from a European spaceport. Its launch weight was 6,910 kg, and it is "distinguished by a giant, 60-foot (18-meter) wide S-band antenna that will be unfurled in the coming weeks. Once the satellite's two solar wings are deployed, TerreStar-1 is expected to have a wingspan of about 106 feet (32.4 meters). ... It is designed to provide mobile voice and data communications in North America to smartphone-size handsets using the 2-gigahertz, or S-band, portion of the radio spectrum. The system is designed to function with a network of ground-based signal amplifiers to permit service in areas the satellite cannot reach, such as urban canyons and areas outside the line-of-sight view of the spacecraft." Video and details of the launch
are available from the ESA.