SAN DIEGO, May 30, 1996 - International Launch Services (ILS) formally signed a contract today to provide launch services to EchoStar Communications Corp. on each of its two launch vehicles, the Lockheed Martin Atlas and the Russian-built Proton. An Atlas IIAS will launch EchoStar's third high-power direct broadcast satellite in the time period September 1997 through November 1997, and a Proton will launch EchoStar IV in the first quarter of 1998.
Charles H. Lloyd, President-ILS Proton Division, and Michael R. Wash, President-ILS Atlas Division, participated in signing ceremonies at EchoStar's Englewood, CO headquarters with Charles Ergen, Chairman and CEO of EchoStar.
"This contract is an excellent example of the synergism ILS is able to offer the satellite launch marketplace with two launch vehicles, Atlas and Proton," said Charles H. Lloyd, President-Proton Division, ILS. "Launcher diversity is available to customers within one organization."
Following the merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta in 1995, ILS was formed to jointly market the Atlas and Proton. Previously, Lockheed's joint venture with Russian companies Khrunichev and RSC Energia had been established to market the Proton launch vehicle. Martin Marietta's Commercial Launch Services had a similar charter to market the Atlas.
"The ability to offer two independent and highly reliable launchers under one company makes ILS a strong contender for the international launch services business," added Michael R. Wash, President-Atlas Division, ILS. "We are pleased to be able to offer this diversity to EchoStar in carrying out its business plan."
Atlas IIAS is the most powerful configuration in the Atlas family of launch vehicles flying today. It makes use of four strap-on solid rocket boosters to lift up to 8,150 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Atlas IIAS has had 100 percent operational success since its introduction in 1993. The three-stage Proton with its Block DM upper stage is capable of lifting up to 10,500 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Proton launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and boasts a 96% reliability rate.
The EchoStar satellites are high-powered direct broadcast satellites that will be utilized by EchoStar for its DISH Network(TM) satellite system. Assuming FCC approval of a pending merger of Direct Broadcasting Satellite Corp. with an EchoStar subsidiary, EchoStar III will include programming complimentary to that offered by DISH Network on EchoStar I and EchoStar II. DISH Network began broadcasting over 75 channels of video and audio programming on March 4, 1996 to subscribers throughout the continental United States. A total of over 200 channels of digital video audio and data services are expected to be delivered to homes throughout the continental U.S. with the launch of EchoStar II later this year.
Lockheed Martin Astro Space Commercial manufactures the EchoStar satellites. The Atlas booster and the Centaur upper stage are built at Lockheed Martin Astronautics production facilities in Denver, CO; San Diego, CA; and Harlingen, TX. Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow. ILS, through its LKEI affiliate, presently holds five commercial Proton launch contracts for a total of 16 launch commitments. The Atlas backlog stands at 23. The worth of the combined ILS Proton and Atlas backlog is in excess of $2.5 billion.