SAN DIEGO, Feb. 3, 2000 - An Atlas rocket soared eastward above the Atlantic Ocean tonight carrying a Spanish commercial communications satellite to orbit for Madrid-based HISPASAT,a satellite communication systems provider for Europe and the Americas.
The Atlas IIAS lifted off at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (1830 hours) and completed its mission just under a half hour later with the successful separation of the three-ton satellite from the Centaur upper stage. The launch was conducted by a combined team of International Launch Services (ILS), Lockheed Martin, HISPASAT and satellite builder Alcatel Space.
"We are delighted to provide a successful launch for HISPASAT the first time out on Atlas," said Dr. Mark J. Albrecht, ILS President. "We are pleased that this vital customer entrusted their key mission to Atlas."
With tonight's AC-158/HISPASAT 1C launch, Atlas II, IIA and IIAS vehicles have achieved 100% mission success with a tally of 46 successful flights. This reliability rate is unmatched in the launch industry for this number of launches. The string of consecutive successful Atlas launches now stands at 48.
Tonight's successful launch deploys the third satellite for HISPASAT. HISPASAT 1C will expand HISPASAT's capacity for communication services on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, a key element of the HISPASAT system. The 1C satellite will be collocated with HISPASAT 1A and 1B at 30 degrees West longitude, providing satellite services to three geographic zones on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. HISPASAT 1C will nearly double HISPASAT's operating capability in orbit. HISPASAT 1C uses the SPACEBUS 3000B2 platform built at Alcatel Space spacecraft manufacturing facility in Cannes, France.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin at facilities in Denver, CO; San Diego, CA; and Harlingen, TX. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing North American, located in Canoga Park,CA, Atlas MA-5A engine; 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 Brigham City, UT, Castor IVA solid rocket boosters; and Marconi Integrated Systems, San Diego, CA, avionics systems.
Launch operations are provided by Lockheed Martin at Complex 36, Cape Canaveral. Mission management is provided by International Launch Services (ILS), San Diego, CA, formed in 1995 to jointly market Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch services to the international and domestic satellite industry.