CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., Sept. 8, 1996 - A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIA rocket successfully launched the GE-1 commercial communications satellite into supersynchronous transfer orbit this evening from Complex 36, Pad B. It was the fifth successful Atlas launch of 1996 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the 25th consecutive successful flight for Atlas.
The Atlas IIA, designated AC-123 for the GE-1 mission, is one of four variants in the Atlas family presently launching satellites for domestic and international customers. Atlas IIA is capable of placing satellites in the 6,200 to 6,500-lb. weight class into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Atlas II series, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has had 100 percent operational success since the introduction of each launch vehicle.
GE-1, built by Lockheed Martin Astro Space Commercial, is the first commercial communications satellite to use the advanced A2100 bus design. Once in final orbit at 103 degrees West, GE-1 will join the rest of GE's commercial domestic satellite fleet in providing cable television, broadcast television and radio, private business and government communications services to the 50 U.S. states and Caribbean region.
Lockheed Martin has commitments for 27 Atlas launches through the 1990s, 23 commercial and 4 Air Force missions. Two more missions remain in the 1996 manifest, and eight missions are forecast for next year.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, CO; Harlingen, TX; and San Diego, CA. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Rockwell International, located in Canoga Park, CA, Atlas MA-5 engines; Pratt & Whitney, located in West Palm Beach, FL, Centaur upper stage RL-10 engines; and Honeywell Space Systems of Clearwater, FL, inertial navigation unit.
Astronautics is one of five operating elements of the corporation's Space and Strategic Missiles Sector headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Launch services are provided by International Launch Services, San Diego, CA, formed in 1995 to jointly market launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch vehicles.