PARIS, June 19, 2001 – International Launch Services (ILS) is in the final stages of contract negotiations with Inmarsat to launch at least one of Inmarsat's next-generation satellites, the Inmarsat-4, during 2003/2004 using the Atlas V rocket, both companies announced today. The contract includes options for additional launches. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Once signed, the contract would make Inmarsat the sixth commercial customer to sign up for the Atlas V, which is scheduled to make its debut launch next year.
"We are most pleased that Inmarsat has the confidence to select Atlas V and to join our growing list of customers who have chosen ILS to launch their satellites," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "Atlas IIA vehicles launched two Inmarsat-3 satellites in 1996, and we're happy to have another opportunity to serve Inmarsat. We are committed to mission success for Inmarsat-4. Atlas V is an evolutionary enhancement of the Atlas vehicle, increasing capabilities while maintaining the heritage that has given Atlas the enviable record of 55 consecutive successful launches over eight years."
Inmarsat has ordered three Astrium Eurostar 3000 model satellites for its Inmarsat-4 series. Weighing about 6 metric tons, the spacecraft will be used for Inmarsat's Broadband Global Area Network (B-GAN). Inmarsat has been providing global mobile satellite communications for more than two decades.
"Atlas is a highly successful launch vehicle and we have every faith that it will continue to be so," said Michael Storey, CEO and president of Inmarsat Ventures plc. "Selection of a launch vehicle is a critical part of the overall program process, but we believe ILS is presenting us with a balanced program that offers innovation, real deliverables and the best combination in terms of quality, schedule and price."
The Atlas V family is designed both for ILS commercial missions and to meet the U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The first vehicle in the Atlas V series, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, has been completed, and has been shipped to Cape Canaveral, Fla. The inaugural flight is planned for second quarter 2002.
Atlas V is available in a range of configurations to lift payloads up to nearly 8700 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). It incorporates state-of-the-art designs, materials and processes, including the throttleable, Russian-built RD-180 engine, the first variable-thrust main engine to power a U.S. expendable launch vehicle.
The RD-180, and most of the other technologies for Atlas V, were flight-proven last year, during ILS' successful initial launch of the Atlas III rocket.
ILS is a joint venture formed in 1995 by Lockheed Martin Corp. of the United States and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. It provides launch services on the American Atlas and Russian Proton launch vehicles to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry. ILS' Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations at facilities in Denver; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif. The three-stage Proton and the available Breeze M upper stage are produced by Khrunichev at its factory near Moscow. The alternative Block DM upper stage is built by Energia, also near Moscow.