CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 15, 2004 - The Superbird-6 satellite is in orbit tonight thanks to a successful launch on an Atlas IIAS rocket provided by International Launch Services (ILS).
Liftoff of the Atlas vehicle, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), was at 8:45 p.m. EDT (00:45 April 16 GMT). The rocket released the satellite into its target transfer orbit 30 minutes later.
This was the fourth launch conducted this year by ILS, a Lockheed Martin joint venture. It also was ILS' second launch for Space Communications Corp. of Tokyo. Both Superbird spacecraft are 601 model satellites from Boeing Satellite Systems (BSS) of Los Angeles.
"We appreciate that SCC again placed its confidence in ILS and Atlas," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "And we're delighted to have a role in inaugurating new telecommunications services in the Western Pacific region."
Albrecht added: "Tonight's launch marks the 80th mission since the start of the commercial Atlas program. I want to acknowledge BSS and the team that builds the 601 model - 26 of these satellites have flown on Atlas rockets of various configurations over the last 11 years. So this launch is a reunion of a winning trio of companies."
The vehicle flown tonight was the 28th in the Atlas IIAS configuration. Two more flights of this model are scheduled in the next two months. This mission also was the second in two months carrying a satellite for Japan. On March 13, another Atlas rocket carried the MBSAT satellite for Mobile Broadcasting Corp. of Japan, in which SCC is an investor.
The Atlas launch vehicle line has proven its operational reliability over 71 consecutive successful flights since 1993. The current generation of vehicles has a wide performance range for payloads ranging from approximately 3 metric tons to 10 metric tons, with either a 4-meter or 5-meter diameter fairing.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Russian rocket builder Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. ILS markets and manages the missions on the Atlas rocket in the United States at both Cape Canaveral and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; and on the Proton rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Together ILS Atlas and Proton vehicles have launched more than 30 satellite payloads for commercial services in the Asia-Pacific Rim.
ILS was formed in 1995, and is based in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
The Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif.