CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 17, 2004 - An Atlas V launch vehicle placed the AMC-16 satellite into orbit early this morning, marking the 10th and final mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
This was the 74th consecutive successful launch for the Atlas vehicle family, as well as the fourth launch and fourth commercial mission for the Atlas V launcher.
The Atlas V vehicle lifted off at 7:07 a.m. EST (12:07 GMT), and an hour and 49 minutes later separated the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Both the Atlas V launcher and the A2100 model satellite were built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin (LMT), of Bethesda, Md., and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow.
For the past year ILS has been launching nearly monthly with its two vehicles: the Lockheed Martin Atlas and Khrunichev's Proton. Not only was today's launch the 10th of the year; it also was the sixth launch on an Atlas vehicle and the fourth launch this year for the same customer, SES AMERICOM. Atlas IIAS vehicles orbited AMC-10 and AMC-11 in February and May, respectively, and a Proton Breeze M vehicle lifted AMC-15 in October.
"This is record-setting in the number of times we have launched for a single customer in a calendar year," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "SES AMERICOM is a 'platinum customer,' one with which we have a long-standing relationship and have seen many launches. We look forward to continuing our ties with the launch of WS-2 (AMC-12) in early 2005."
The AMC-16 satellite, like its twin, AMC-15, is integral to AMERICOM2Home and its customer, EchoStar's DISH Network. In its final orbital location of 85 degrees West, it will provide coverage to all 50 states.
Anders Johnson, senior vice president of strategic satellite initiatives for SES AMERICOM, said, "We are delighted that AMC-16 has been successfully launched; our heartiest congratulations first to Lockheed Martin for delivering a great spacecraft and to ILS for this morning's picture-perfect launch."
ILS is the global leader in launch services, offering the industry's two best launch systems: Atlas and Proton. With a remarkable launch rate of 69 missions since 2000, the Atlas and Proton launch vehicles have consistently demonstrated the reliability and flexibility that have made them preferred choice among satellite operators worldwide. Since the beginning of 2003, ILS has signed more new commercial contracts than all of its competitors combined.