CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., July 22, 1997 – A Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS rocket is undergoing final preparations at Cape Canaveral Air Station (CCAS), FL, to launch the Superbird-C communications satellite for Space Communications Corporation (SCC) of Japan. Superbird-C will be launched from Complex 36B on 25 July at the opening of a 40-minute launch window that extends from 8:54 to 9:34 p.m. EDT. This will be the fourth Atlas launch of 1997 from CCAS following the successful launches of AC-127/JCSAT-4 on 16 February, AC-128/TEMPO on 8 March, and AC-79/GOES-K on 25 April.
The launch vehicle used for this mission, designated AC-133, is an Atlas IIAS, the most powerful of the Atlas family presently flying. Atlas IIAS is capable of placing payloads of up to 3,719 kg (8,200 lbs) into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). For this mission, AC-133 will lift the approximately 3,130-kg (6,902-lb) Superbird-C satellite to a supersynchronous transfer orbit with an apogee of at least 80,000 kilometers (approximately 43,197 nautical miles). The satellite will use its on-board propulsion system to achieve final geostationary orbit.
Superbird-C will join Superbird A and B, which are already on orbit, in providing communications services to a wide variety of SCC’s private-sector and government customers in Japan and the Asia Pacific region. Located at 144 degrees East longitude, Superbird-C will expand the services and coverage area SCC offers to its customers. Superbird-C, an HS 601 design, was built for SCC by Hughes Space & Communications of El Segundo, CA.
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. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing North American, 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.
Launch operations are provided by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Complex 36. Customer interface and launch vehicle mission management are provided by International Launch Services, San Diego, CA, formed in 1995 to jointly market Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch services to the international and domestic satellite industry.