Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, of Newtown, said today that the ASTRA 1L broadcast satellite it built for Europe's SES Companies, is ready for launch Thursday.

This is the first in a series of five launches planned for this year by Lockheed Martin for SES. It is scheduled for 6:29 p.m., from from Europe's Spaceport in sparsely populated Kourou, French Guiana, in South America, Lockheed spokeswoman Dee Valleras said in a telephone interview from the launch site.

The satellite will be carried to an orbital location of 19.2 degrees east by an Ariane 5-ECA launch vehicle provided by Arianespace, Valleras said.

With 29 active Ku band transponders, the satellite will distribute broadcasts to 109 million homes across Europe. It also has two transponders on the Ka band for interactive applications, the Lockheed announcement said.

This will be the 15th A2100 series spacecraft designed, built and launched for SES by Lockheed Martin, Valleras said. She declined to give the cost of the satellite or launch.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems employs 800 people in Newtown and produces a wide range of satellite, remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments. Lockheed also produces space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, laser radar, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.

The Newtown operation is part of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Denver, which is a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp., of Bethesda, Md. Lockheed Martin reported $39.6 billion in sales last year and employs 140,000 people worldwide, including more than 12,000 in the Philadelphia area.

Contact staff writer Henry J. Holcomb at 215-854-2614 or hholcomb@phillynews.com.