CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., April 12 1999 - A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIAS rocket successfully launched the European W3 communication satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit this evening from Complex 36, Pad A. Liftoff occurred on time at 6:50 p.m. EDT. It was the second successful Atlas launch of 1999 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the 43rd consecutive successful flight.
The Atlas IIAS, designated AC-154 for the W3 mission, is one of two Atlas II family configurations presently launching satellites for commercial and government customers worldwide. The Atlas II series, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has achieved 100 percent operational success since the introduction of each launch vehicle. The newest Atlas vehicle, Atlas IIIA, is proceeding towards first launch June 15.
W3 will be operated by EUTELSAT, the Paris-based consortium of 47 member nations and signatories, and the largest European satellite operator. The satellite was built by Alcatel Space based on its Spacebus 3000 design. Once in final orbit at 7 degrees East, W3 will provide digital communications services for telecommunications as well as professional and consumer television broadcasts.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing North American, located in Canoga Park, Calif., Atlas MA-5A engine; Pratt & Whitney, located in West Palm Beach, Fla., Centaur upper stage RL-10 engines; Honeywell Space Systems of Clearwater, Fla., inertial navigation unit; Thiokol Corp. Brigham City, Utah, Castor IVA solid rocket boosters; and Marconi Integrated Systems, San Diego, Calif., avionics units.
Astronautics is one of the 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, Calif., formed in 1995 to jointly market launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch vehicles.