Lockheed Martin's New Atlas III Debuts in Spectacular Launch from Cape Canaveral
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, 24-MAY-00 -- Atlas III, the newest rocket to fly from the historic Complex 36 launch site at Cape Canaveral, made its debut this afternoon in a dramatic liftoff powered by the new Russian RD-180 engine. The liftoff occurred at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, followed by successful separation of the W4 spacecraft and insertion into geosynchronous transfer orbit just under 29 minutes later. A successful inaugural launch is a joyous occasion for all of the people who have worked so hard to make it a reality, said Dr. Mark J. Albrecht, President of International Launch Services (ILS), provider of the launch service. The launch is marked by a number of important 'firsts' for all of the organizations involved.
For ILS, the launch marks the 50th consecutive successful Atlas flight, a record of reliability that has become the standard in the commercial launch services industry. The successful flight proves the new hardware that will carry the Atlas launch vehicle family into the new millennium and bridge today's launch services to the future and the introduction of Atlas V.
For EUTELSAT, the launch service provided orbital insertion for their 17th satellite. W4 will join SESAT at its 36 degrees East position. SESAT was launched on a Proton launcher on April 5. The two satellites will enable EUTELSAT to consolidate its position in Europe as a leading provider of capacity for television and data services. W4 was built by Alcatel Space.
Congratulations to ILS on the successful launch of the Atlas III launch vehicle, which has boosted a new digital communications for EUTELSAT into space, said Mr. Guiliano Berretta, Eutelsat. With beams over Russia and Africa, W4 opens doors for the launch of major consumer pay-TV platforms and business-to-business services in two geographically distinct regions rich with opportunities. This fully underpins our strategy to evolve into a truly international satellite enterprise.
For Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC), the successful launch is the culmination of a long period of development and testing of the new Atlas III launch vehicle configuration, including the RD-180 engine that powered the Atlas booster phase of flight, as well as the single-engine configuration on the rocket's Centaur upper stage, which has always used a dual-engine system.
We had a vision back in 1993 of where we wanted to take the Atlas family of rockets to meet the objectives laid out in our company's overall launch vehicle strategy, said Tom Marsh, President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company - Astronautics Operations. With today's launch, we celebrate a major milestone in the continuing success story of Atlas and our company's commitment to being the preeminent launch vehicle manufacturer.
For Pratt & Whitney and RD AMROSS, the joint venture company with P&W and NPO Energomash, the flight marked the first Atlas flight to be totally powered by propulsion either produced or provided by P&W.
Today's launch is a major accomplishment for the Lockheed Martin, NPO Energomash, Pratt & Whitney and RD AMROSS team, and provides a great reward for the unflagging effort by this team, said Larry Knauer, President, P&W Space and Russian Operations. As a member of this formidable team, P&W is extremely pleased with today's success and is enthusiastically looking forward to supporting many more successful launches for the Atlas III.
The AC-201 flight marks the first Russian rocket engine to be provided by Pratt & Whitney and is the first Russian rocket engine to power an American launch vehicle. A P&W upper stage engine, the RL10 (RL10A-4-1B model), powered the Atlas first single-engine Centaur configuration.
International Launch Services is a joint venture stock company established in 1995 to market launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton to the global space communications industry. ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International joint venture with Russian companies Khrunichev and RSC Energia. ILS is headquartered in Reston, VA, with additional offices in Denver, CO, and Moscow, Russian Federation. ILS manages all tasks associated with providing launch services including technical, management and marketing expertise.
Astronautics Operations is one of the operating units of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, CO. Astronautics Operations designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Chief products include interplanetary spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems.
P&W Propulsion includes liquid rocket and hypersonic propulsion at Liquid Space Propulsion, located at West Palm Beach, FL; solid rocket propulsion at Chemical Systems Division, located at San Jose, CA; Russian rocket engines at RD AMROSS LLC., located at West Palm Beach, FL; and automated spray systems and services at Advanced Systems Technology, located at Huntsville, AL. P&W is a unit of United Technologies Corporation of Hartford, CT.