BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, May 15, 2001 - A Russian-built Proton K rocket successfully launched the PAS-10 communications satellite for PanAmSat Corp. today, marking the first mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
Liftoff from Baikonur's Pad 23 occurred at 7:11 a.m. local time (01:11 GMT, 9:11 p.m. May 14 EDT). The mission lasted 6 hours and 33 minutes, at which time the satellite was separated from the launch vehicle into geosynchronous transfer orbit. PanAmSat will position the Boeing 601HP model satellite at 68.5 degrees East longitude to provide communications services in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
"It's another excellent launch for Proton and ILS," noted ILS President Mark Albrecht. Last year, the Proton flew 14 times, all successfully. Six of those were commercial missions for ILS and eight were Russian federal launches. "It's great to see Proton continuing its winning streak, and just a month after successfully flying the first of its Proton M/Breeze M vehicles," Albrecht said.
This was the first mission of 2001 for ILS, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. in the United States and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia in Russia. ILS manages all tasks associated with providing launch services on both the American Atlas and the Russian-built Proton vehicle families, including technical, management and marketing expertise.
"PAS-10 marks PanAmSat's sixth new satellite in less than 18 months, demonstrating our strong commitment to build the most robust fleet available to serve the needs of our long-term and valued customers," said R. Douglas Kahn, PanAmSat's president and chief executive officer. "This launch also renews our successful relationship with ILS, which ensured the timely and effective delivery of our new spacecraft into orbit."
Since ILS was formed in 1995, it has launched four other satellites that are part of PanAmSat's fleet. Proton vehicles launched PAS-8 in November 1998 and PAS-5 in August 1997. Atlas launched Galaxy VIII-I in December 1997 and Galaxy III-R in December 1995.
The three-stage Proton rocket is produced by Khrunichev. The Block DM fourth stage used in today's mission was built by Energia. An alternative fourth stage, the Breeze M, is also built by Khrunichev. ILS' Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations.
PanAmSat Corporation is the world's premier provider of global video and data broadcasting services via satellite. Operating a global network of 21 in-orbit spacecraft and seven technical facilities, the company delivers entertainment and information to cable television systems, TV broadcast affiliates, direct-to-home TV operators, internet service providers, telecommunications companies and corporations worldwide. PanAmSat will expand its global fleet to 22 spacecraft by year-end 2001.
ILS' next launch on Proton is scheduled for June, with the ASTRA 2C spacecraft for Societe Europienne des Satellites of Luxembourg.