MOSCOW, Sept. 27, 1999 - A Proton rocket successfully launched this morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 4:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m. USA EDT, Sept. 26) carrying the LMI-1 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).
The launch was the twelfth successful commercial Proton mission to be carried out under the auspices of International Launch Services (ILS), the joint venture stock company owned by Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International (LKEI) and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services.
LMI-1 will be operated by Lockheed Martin Intersputnik (LMI), a joint venture company comprising Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications and the Intersputnik Organization of Space Communications, providing broadcast, fixed telecommunications and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services to customers in Eastern Europe, South Asia, Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The spacecraft is the first satellite in the LMI constellation. This was the first successful launch for LMI to be carried out on a commercial Proton.
The three-stage Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center at its factory in Moscow. The fourth stage is built by RSC Energia, located near Moscow. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Sunnyvale, CA, USA. ILS provided mission management for the launch. Engineers and technicians from ILS, Khrunichev, LMI, Lockheed Martin and the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces were responsible for processing the satellite, readying the launch vehicle and conducting the launch.
The Proton/LMl-1 launch was the fifth ILS commercial launch on Proton to be carried out this year. Proton is also the primary heavy-lift system for Russian government launches, as well as select commercial launches secured by Khrunichev before the formation of ILS.
ILS is a joint venture stock company established in 1995 to jointly market Proton and the Lockheed Martin Astronautics-built Atlas to the worldwide satellite launch market. ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International joint venture. ILS is headquartered in San Diego, CA, USA.