International Launch Services has launched the DIRECTV 12 satellite into orbit on a Proton M launch vehicle.

The 5.9t Boeing-built satellite for DIRECTV will join DIRECTV 10 and 11 to expand the company’s HD capacity by 50% with over 200 national channels and 1,500 local HD and digital channels.

The satellite, with its two Ka-band reflectors, each measuring 2.8m in diameter and nine other Ka-band reflectors, will receive and transmit programming throughout the US, Hawaii and Alaska.

Boeing has received the first on-orbit signals from DIRECTV 12, indicating that the satellite is healthy and operating normally.

Boeing is set to handover the satellite to the operator in early 2009.