CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, FL, December 11 1995 – A Lockheed Martin Atlas rocket is undergoing final preparations at Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, to launch the Galaxy III-R satellite for Hughes Communications, Inc. on December 14, 1995. The 54-minute launch window extends from 7:23 to 8:17 p.m. EST. This will be the eleventh Atlas launch from the Cape this year. All ten previous missions have been successful.
Designated AC-120, the Atlas IIA will launch the satellite for Hughes Communications, Inc., based in El Segundo, CA. Galaxy III-R is a version of the Hughes HS 601,weighing approximately 6,760 pounds at launch. Once in final orbit, Galaxy III-R will be positioned at 95 degrees West longitude to provide C-band broadcast programming throughout the coverage area, which includes the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The Ku-band capacity will be used by Galaxy Latin America to deliver DIRECTV entertainment programming to Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
The Atlas IIA used for this mission consists of the Atlas booster and the Centaur upper stage. The booster stage will deliver the Centaur and spacecraft to an altitude of approximately 100 nautical miles. The Centaur will use two engine burns separated by a 15-minute coast phase to place the Galaxy III-R into an intermediate transfer orbit of approximately 15,540 nautical miles. The spacecraft will then use its on-board propulsion system to achieve the desired final orbit.
Lockheed Martin has commitments for 20 Atlas launches through the 1990s, 16 commercial and 4 Air Force missions. This launch is the final launch for Atlas in 1995, the busiest year since the commercial Atlas program began in 1986.
Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Rockwell International, located in Canoga Park, CA, Atlas MA-5A engines; Pratt & Whitney, located in West Palm Beach, FL, Centaur upper stage RL-10 engines; Honeywell Space Systems of Clearwater, FL, inertial navigation unit; and Thiokol Corp. of Ogden, UT, Castor IVA solid rocket boosters (on Atlas IIAS configurations).
Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services subsidiary offers a complete launch services package comprising the booster and upper stage, launch operations, integration of the space, dedicated mission management and validation of spacecraft separation and orbit. CLS recently formed a new company with Lockheed Khrunichev Energia as a result of the merger of Martin Marietta and Lockheed. The new company, ILS International Launch Services, is marketing the commercial Atlas and Proton launch vehicles.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, CO and San Diego, CA. Astronautics is one of four operating elements of the corporation’s Space and Strategic Missiles Sector headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense.