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Flipping The Bird... On

Ground control to Major Tom. Are you launching a spaceship or a bomb?

Well, that's what Bowie might have written about DirecTV's attempt to launch an HDTV-expansion enabling satellite back in January. That plan crashed and burned, literally (see photo below).

YouTube Inc. has the vintage video from DirecTV's Sea Launch fireworks.

Undeterred, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) forged ahead and successfully launched a new satellite on July 6 from Kazakhstan using a Russian-built rocket. (See DirecTV HD Bird Takes Off.)

The new DirecTV 10 satellite is now looking down on us from a geosynchronous transfer orbit with an apex of 22,300 miles above the equator. DirecTV says it will fully flip the bird on by September, enabling the launch up to 100 national HDTV channels by the end of 2007. That's a lot of high-def.

Could this finally be the "Death Star" that cable has feared for more than a decade?

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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