In 1985, the Société Europíenne des Satellites (SES) was created to provide medium power TV coverage to Europe. This privately held company established the Astra communications satellite network under a franchise from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This network, now consisting of 4 satellites, began providing Europe's first private broadcasting service on February 5, 1989, and was reaching more than 21 million homes by early 1991 via cable, SMATV and 1.85 million DTH private dishes. The first 2 satellites in the series, Astra 1A and Astra 1B, are the primary elements of the system, with Astra 1C and Astra 1D acting as on-orbit spares.
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