CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., March 16, 1998 -A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas II rocket successfully launched the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UHF F/O) F8 communications satellite into intermediate transfer orbit this afternoon from Complex 36, Pad A. Liftoff was at 4:32 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
AC-132 was the third successful Atlas launch of 1998 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the 38th consecutive successful flight for Atlas. The Atlas II series of vehicles, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has achieved 100 per cent mission success since the introduction of each.
The Atlas II, designated AC-132 for the UHF F/O F8 mission, is capable of placing satellites in the 6,200 to 6,500-lb. weight class into geosynchronous transfer orbit. AC-132 injected UHF F/O F8 the F8 into an intermediate transfer orbit, from where the satellite's on-board propulsion system will maneuver it to final orbit.
UHF F/O F8 incorporates a Global Broadcast Service payload to greatly enhance the communications capability of the satellite. Satellites nine and ten will also carry this payload and will also be launched by Atlas. At a total of 10 missions under contract with Hughes, the UHF F/O Program is Lockheed Martin's largest single commercial launch services program.
Lockheed Martin has commitments for 23 Atlas launches through the 1990s, 17 commercial and 6 Air Force missions. The 1998 launch forecast calls for a total of nine launches from CCAS and one from Vandenberg AFB, CA.
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 Boeing North American 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 the operating units of the corporation's Space and Strategic Missiles Sector headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Launch operations are provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Complex 36. Customer interface and launch vehicle mission management are provided by International Launch Services, headquartered in San Diego, CA. ILS was formed in 1995 to jointly market commercial launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch vehicles.