CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., Dec. 8, 1997 - A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIAS rocket successfully launched the Galaxy VIII-i commercial direct-to-home television broadcast satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit this evening from Complex 36, Pad B, at Cape Canaveral Air Station (CCAS), FL. Liftoff occurred at 6:52 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. It was the eighth and final 1997 Atlas launch and the 35th consecutive success for Atlas.
The Atlas IIAS, designated AC-149 for the Galaxy VIII-i mission, is the most powerful of the Atlas configurations presently launching payloads for commercial, military and government customers. Booster performance is increased through the use of four strap-on solid rocket boosters. The Atlas II series, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has had 100 percent operational success since the introduction of each launch vehicle.
Once in final orbit at 95 degrees West longitude, Galaxy VIII-i capacity will be dedicated to Galaxy Latin America for DIRECTV service in Latin America. Galaxy III-R, which provided the initial platform for Galaxy Latin America, was launched on an Atlas in December 1995. PanAmSat is a leading commercial provider of global satellite-based communications services. Galaxy VIII-i is PanAmSat's 17th satellite and its sixth serving Latin America.
International Launch Services has commitments for 24 Atlas launches through the 1990s, including 17 commercial and 7 Air Force missions. Together with its commercial Proton backlog, ILS has commitments for 45 launches through the year 2000. Its combined backlog exceeds $3.5 billion. The 1998 Atlas schedule calls for eight launches from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the first Atlas/Centaur launch from Vandenber AFB, CA in June.
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; Honeywell Space Systems of Clearwater, FL, inertial navigation unit; Thiokol Corp. of Ogden, UT, Castor IVA solid rocket boosters; and GDE Systems of San Diego, CA, avionics boxes.
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.