McLEAN, Va., March 24, 2003 — International Launch Services (ILS) has set April 29 for its first Proton rocket launch of the year from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying the AMC-9 communications satellite for SES AMERICOM.
A Proton K vehicle with a Breeze M upper stage will be used for the delivery-in-orbit mission, which was contracted with satellite builder Alcatel Space of Cannes, France.
"Alcatel and SES AMERICOM had a choice of vehicles for this mission," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We are pleased with their confidence in the Breeze M upper stage as the low-risk solution."
"We are confident in Alcatelï¿½s selection of the Proton with the Breeze M upper stage," said Dany Harel, vice president, Space Systems and Operations, for SES AMERICOM. "We have a well-established relationship with ILS and look forward to working with them again."
This will be ILS' 14th launch of a satellite for a member of the SES GLOBAL family of companies – SES AMERICOM and its predecessor GE AMERICOM, SES ASTRA and AsiaSat. In addition, ILS is scheduled to launch AMC-10, 11, and 12 in the 2003-04 time frame. SES AMERICOM also signed up this month for an additional Proton/Breeze M launch.
"Our strategy for the last several years has been to transition all our Proton launches to the Breeze M, because we know nothing is more important to our customers than reliability," Albrecht said. "With the AMC-9 vehicle decision, and the recent new Proton/Breeze M launch orders from Telesat and SES AMERICOM, we have three votes of confidence in just one month."
AMC-9 is a Spacebus 3000B3 model with 48 transponders. It will enable SES AMERICOM, an SES GLOBAL company, to expand its digital television broadcasting, data transmission and telecommunication service offerings to North America from its orbital slot of 72 degrees West longitude. AMC-9 will weigh about 4,100 kg at launch.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, which builds the Atlas rocket; and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. Khrunichev produces the Proton vehicles and the Breeze M upper stage.
ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise. It offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry.