CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., April 25, 1997 - A Lockheed Martin Atlas I rocket, designated AC-79, successfully launched the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite K (GOES K) into geosynchronous transfer orbit early this morning from Complex 36B at Cape Canaveral Air Station (CCAS), FL. Liftoff occurred right on time at 1:49 a.m. EDT. It was the 30th consecutive successful Atlas launch from CCAS, the third launch of 1997 and the last launch of the Atlas I configuration.
The Atlas I had its first flight in July 1990. That flight was an important evolutionary step in the transition from the basic NASA Atlas/Centaur vehicle that first launched successfully in 1963 to Lockheed Martin's full family of launch vehicles presently serving the commercial, government civil and military launch industry. Future NASA missions are manifested to fly on Atlas IIA or IIAS, starting with the launch next year of EOS AM-1 on an Atlas IIAS from the new launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the West Coast. As Atlas I leaves the inventory, the newest Atlas vehicle, the Atlas IIAR, is transitioning from development to production and first launch late next year.
GOES K is the third in the series of advanced weather satellites to be successfully launched by Atlas for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GOES 8, launched in April 1994, is positioned at 75 degrees West overlooking the East Coast out into the Atlantic Ocean. GOES 9, launched in May 1995, is positioned at 135 degrees West overlooking the West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii. Once on orbit, GOES K will be designated NOAA GOES 10 and will be placed into operation when needed.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, CO; San Diego, CA; and Harlingen, TX. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing North American, 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.
Launch operations are provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at CCAS Complex 36 in FL. Spacecraft mission management is by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Customer interface and launch vehicle mission management are provided by International Launch Services, San Diego, CA, formed in 1995 to jointly market the Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch vehicles to the international and domestic satellite industry.