CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, FL, March 28, 1996 – A Lockheed Martin Atlas rocket is undergoing final preparations at Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, to launch a communications satellite for Inmarsat, the international cooperative that operates a global system of satellites to provide mobile satellite communications at sea, in the air and on land. The Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite will be launched from Complex 36A on April 1 at the opening of a 37-minute launch window that extends from 6:04 to 6:41 p.m. EST.
Lockheed Martin has compiled a string of 21 consecutive successful Atlas launches from Cape Canaveral, and the Atlas II series, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has 100% operational success. The Atlas IIA used for this mission, designated AC-122, 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 Inmarsat-3 F1 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit with an apogee of approximately 19,224 nautical miles. The spacecraft will then use its on-board propulsion system to achieve the final geostationary orbit.
Inmarsat-3 F1 is the first of five third-generation satellites, enabling Inmarsat to provide lower cost communications service that will operate with even smaller, more economical mobile and transportable terminals. Lockheed Martin Astro Space Commercial is the prime contractor for overall spacecraft design and manufacture, and Matra Marconi Space is providing the communications payload. International Launch Services will provide launch services for a second Inmarsat-3 on Atlas later this year.
This is the second Atlas launch of 1996, following the record-breaking 1995 schedule, which tallied 11 consecutive successful flights for Atlas from Cape Canaveral. The 1996 manifest calls for eight Atlas launches. Atlas presently has launch commitments for 20 missions.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, CO, San Diego, CA, and Harlingen, TX. Astronautics is one of four operating elements of the corporation’s Space & Strategic Missiles Sector headquartered in Bethesda, MD. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense.
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).
International Launch Services (ILS) is a company established in 1995 as a result of the merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta. ILS is owned jointly by Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services and the LKEI joint venture with Khrunichev Enterprise and RSC Energia in Russia. ILS markets the Atlas and Proton launch vehicles, offering a complete launch services package comprising the launch vehicle, launch operations, integration of the spacecraft, dedicated mission management and validation of spacecraft separation and orbit.