CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., June 19, 2001 - An Atlas IIAS rocket carried a satellite for ICO Global Communications into orbit early this morning, marking the first Atlas launch of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
This was the second successful launch in four days for ILS, of McLean, Virginia. ILS is the only launch services company to have two integrated launch vehicle offerings: the U.S.-built Atlas and the Russian-built Proton. On Saturday (June 16) in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, a Proton vehicle launched the ASTRA 2C broadcast satellite for ILS customer Societe Europeenne des Satellites.
The ICO launch lifted off from the Cape's Pad 36B at 12:41 a.m. EDT today, 4:41 GMT. After a flight of nearly 113 minutes, the spacecraft was separated from the Atlas vehicle into its target circular, medium earth orbit of about 10,100 km (about 5,500 mi). The satellite is a specially modified version of the Boeing 601 model built by Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc., which contracted with ILS for the launch in order to deliver the satellite in orbit.
"This launch is the 55th consecutive success for Atlas," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We're proud of Atlas' reliability, and appreciate that Boeing and ICO had the confidence to trust this mission to ILS."
He noted that two launches occurring in such a short period of time highlights ILS' versatility. "With the Lockheed Martin Atlas and the Khrunichev-Energia Proton families, ILS has a range of vehicles to meet any customer's payload and schedule needs," he said.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. of the United States and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry. The Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations at facilities in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif. ILS' three-stage Proton and the available Breeze M upper stage are produced by Khrunichev at its factory near Moscow. The alternative Block DM fourth stage used in this mission is built by Energia, also near Moscow.