CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., April 11, 2003 – An Atlas III rocket lifted off at 8:47 p.m. EDT today and successfully delivered its AsiaSat 4 satellite payload into space, kicking off a busy year for International Launch Services (ILS).
The Lockheed Martin-built rocket carried the high-power, multimedia satellite for 31 minutes before releasing it into geosynchronous transfer orbit. AsiaSat, which is the dominant satellite operator in the region, will use the spacecraft to provide communications, direct-to-home and broadband services to customers in Asia and Australia. The final operating position for the Boeing Satellite Systems-built 601 model spacecraft is 122 degrees East longitude.
"We're off to a great start, with another perfect launch for Atlas," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "This makes 64 successful launches in a row for Atlas over a decade, a tribute to the dedication to the team. We know our customers value reliability, and we're proud to have delivered that reliability to AsiaSat."
Albrecht added that ILS could conduct as many as 10 launches this year on its full range of Atlas and Proton vehicles, depending on deliveries of the satellites. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and two Russian companies, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas IIAS, Atlas III and Atlas V families and the Russian Proton launch vehicles.
This mission marks ILS' third launch for AsiaSat and the 13th launch of a satellite for a member of the SES GLOBAL family of companies – AsiaSat, SES ASTRA and SES AMERICOM (or its predecessor GE AMERICOM). In addition, ILS is scheduled to launch four more satellites for SES AMERICOM in the next few years. SES ASTRA was the first commercial customer on Proton, and has used Proton six times.
ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with products with the highest reliability in the industry. ILSï¿½ Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. — Space & Strategic Missiles Operations at facilities in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif.