CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., Oct. 20, 1998 - A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIA rocket successfully launched the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UHF F/O) F9 communications satellite into intermediate transfer orbit early this morning from Complex 36, Pad A. Liftoff occurred at 3:19 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
AC-130 was the sixth and final Atlas launch of 1998 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and the forty-first consecutive successful flight for Atlas. The Atlas II series of vehicles, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has achieved 100% mission success since the introduction of each.
The Atlas II, designated AC-130 for the UHF F/O F9 mission, is capable of placing satellites in the 6,200 to 6,760 lb weight class into geosynchronous transfer orbit. AC-130 injected UHF F/O F9 into an intermediate transfer orbit. The satellite's on-board propulsion system will perform a series of maneuvers to place UHF F9 into its final, circular orbit.
UHF F/O F9 incorporates a Global Broadcast Service payload, inaugurated on F8, to greatly enhance the communications capability of the satellite. This feature will also be carried on F10 to be launched by Atlas next year. 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.
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; and GDE Systems, Inc., San Diego, Calif., avionics units.
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, Calif. ILS was formed in 1995 to jointly market commercial launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton.