NASA Chooses ILS Atlas V Launch Vehicle To Launch Solar Dynamics Observatory
McLean, Va., 30-SEP-04 -- A mission to study solar influences on space weather will ride into orbit on an Atlas V launch vehicle, under a contract announced today between NASA and International Launch Services (ILS).
ILS is scheduled to launch the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in April 2008 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., using the Atlas V 401 configuration. The space agency’s Kennedy Space Center is managing the launch services contract, while Goddard Space Flight Center manages the SDO project. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“It’s exciting to have this vital space exploration mission on our manifest, and to support NASA’s advancement of science,” said ILS President Mark Albrecht. “This will be our third NASA launch on Atlas V, following the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005 and the Pluto New Horizons flight in 2006.”
This also is ILS’ sixth award of the year for an Atlas V launch, which is complemented by an equal number of new Proton launch orders.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first spacecraft in Goddard’s Living with a Star Program, under NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection theme. Among the SDO study topics are solar magnetic fields and the dynamic processes that influence space weather.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) builds the Atlas V vehicle, which can be configured to lift payloads ranging from 10,900 pounds to more than 19,000 pounds to geostationary transfer orbit. ILS offers launch services to government and commercial satellite operators worldwide, on the Atlas vehicles and on the Russian-built Proton rockets. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Russian rocket builder Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. 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.