CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., April 3, 1996 – A Lockheed Martin Atlas IIA rocket, designated AC-122, successfully launched the first of the new-generation Inmarsat communications satellites tonight from Complex 36A at Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL. Inmarsat-3 F1 was launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit. It was the 22nd consecutive successful Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral and the second successful launch of 1996.
The Atlas IIA, designated AC-122 for the Inmarsat-3 mission, is one of four variants in the Atlas family presently launching satellites for domestic and international customers. The Atlas II series, consisting of the II, IIA and IIAS, has compiled a perfect record with 100 percent mission success of each configuration starting with the Atlas II introduction in 1991, the Atlas IIA in 1992 and the Atlas IIAS in 1993. The Atlas family is capable of launching satellites weighing from 5,000 to 8,150 pounds. International Launch Services (ILS) will provide Atlas launch services for a second Inmarsat-3 satellite in December.
The Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite was built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics’ sister division Astro Space Commercial, which is responsible for overall spacecraft design, manufacturing, assembly and testing. Matra Marconi Space provided the communications payload onboard the satellite. Once in final orbit, Inmarsat-3 F1 will be positioned at 64 degrees East to provide global mobile and remote area communications services on land, at sea and in the air. Inmarsat is an internationally owned cooperative headquartered in London, and it presently has 79 member nations.
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 and 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) was established in 1995 as a result of the merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta to market commercial space launch services on the Atlas and Proton launch vehicles. 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 offers its customers full advantage of both products to ensure the highest degree of schedule assurance and mission success.