CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., Nov. 21, 1996 - A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIA rocket successfully launched the HOT BIRD 2 television broadcast satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit this afternoon from Complex 36, Pad B. It was the sixth successful Atlas launch of 1996 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the 26th consecutive successful flight.
The Atlas IIA, designated AC-124 for the HOT BIRD 2 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 6,700 lb weight class into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Atlas II series, including the II, IIA, and IIAS, has achieved 100 percent operational success since the introduction of each launch vehicle.
HOT BIRD 2 will be operated by EUTELSAT, the Paris-based consortium of 45 member nations and signatories, which is a leading provider of satellite-based communication and broadcast services to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. HOT BIRD 2 was built by Matra Marconi Space in Toulouse, France. Once in final orbit at 13 degrees East, HOT BIRD 2 will be operated in the frequency band reserved specifically for direct television broadcasts.
Lockheed Martin has commitments for 28 Atlas launches through the 1990s. 22 commercial and 6 Air Force missions. One more mission remains in the 1996 manifest, and nine 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-5A 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 Lockheed Martin 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.