While we patiently wait for EchoStar XV to lift off in 2010, it seems the countdown for EchoStar XI is much, much closer. Space Systems/Loral has just announced delivery of said satellite to Sea Launch's home port in Long Beach, California. The 20-kW bird will be used to "expand capacity for DISH Network," and while a definitive launch date isn't mentioned, we are told that it should blast off sometime this summer. According to Rohan Zaveri, Vice President of Space Programs for DISH Network, there is "a good deal of anticipation as it gears up for the EchoStar XI launch," and considering the fate of the AMC-14, we'd surmise a good deal of nail-biting, too.

[Image courtesy of Sea Launch]