Atlas Launch Facilities Withstand Hurricanes; ILS And Lockheed Martin Team Readies Next Vehicle
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.,, 28-SEP-04 -- International Launch Services (ILS) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) are preparing for the final Atlas mission of the year, having come through a series of hurricanes with launch facilities relatively unscathed.
The next vehicle, an Atlas V 521 launcher designated AV-005, arrived at Cape Canaveral last week from the Lockheed Martin manufacturing center near Denver, Colo. AV-005 is scheduled to launch the Lockheed Martin-built AMC-16 satellite for SES AMERICOM in December. ILS manages all Atlas missions.
“We want to reassure our customers that our facilities are intact and we are pressing ahead to meet our Atlas launch commitments,” said ILS President Mark Albrecht.
The booster portion of the rocket was unloaded Friday, shortly before evacuations were ordered as Hurricane Jeanne approached the Central Florida coast. The vehicle was secured inside the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC), part of the state-of-the-art Complex 41 completed in 2002 to support Atlas V launches. Both the vehicle and the building came through the weekend storm undamaged.
Lockheed Martin has a detailed hurricane preparedness plan, with specific procedures to safe and secure all launch facilities. The company works closely with U.S. Air Force and NASA weather forecasters to anticipate the impact of tropical systems.
“We are fortunate to have seen only minimal damage. Because we took precautions in building and securing the facilities, we are able to resume launch processing in a timely fashion,” said Adrian Laffitte, Lockheed Martin director of Atlas launch operations. A company Damage and Recovery Team began assessing damages right after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne moved on. At Air Force direction, Cape Canaveral facilities began closing for Frances Sept. 1, and were reopened by Sept. 9. They closed for Jeanne Friday, and staff began returning today, with a normal workday expected Wednesday.
Built to meet the latest Florida hurricane safety requirements, the ASOC and associated structures remained secure throughout the storms. Damages were slight and mostly external, and repairs necessitated by Frances’ wind and rain were under way or completed by the time Jeanne passed through.
Lockheed Martin has an emergency management team that convenes during natural disaster events. This team held daily teleconferences throughout the storm periods for Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in August and September, and had vehicles and supplies ready to assist with recovery, should that have been necessary.
On Aug. 31, the Atlas team successfully launched an Atlas IIAS vehicle with a national security payload. This was the last launch from Pad 36A. Pad 36B will see its final launch in early 2005, with the final flight of an Atlas III vehicle and another national security payload. The buildings at Complex 36 withstood the storms with small rain leakage and minor exterior damage.
ILS has completed five successful launches on Atlas vehicles to date in 2004, and three on its other vehicle, the Russian Proton rocket. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Russia. ILS markets and manages the missions on the Atlas vehicle in the United States and on the Proton rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. ILS was formed in 1995, and is based in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
ILS is the global leader in launch services, offering the industry's two best launch systems: Atlas and Proton. With a remarkable launch rate of 66 missions since 2000, the Atlas and Proton launch vehicles have consistently demonstrated the reliability and flexibility that have made them the preferred choice among satellite operators worldwide. Since the beginning of 2003, ILS has signed more new commercial contracts than all of its competitors combined.