BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, March 31, 2002 – A Russian-built Proton rocket successfully carried the Intelsat 903 satellite into orbit today, marking the third mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
The Proton K vehicle lifted off from Baikonur's Pad 23 at 10:25 p.m. Saturday local time (17:25 GMT, 12:25 p.m. EST). The rocket's Block DM upper stage deposited the spacecraft into a geosynchronous transfer orbit about 6 hours and 43 minutes later. The Intelsat 903 satellite will be positioned at 325.5 degrees East longitude, over the Atlantic Ocean region, and will provide internet, broadcast, voice and data services.
ILS, based in McLean, Va., is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and two Russian companies, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia of Moscow. ILS was formed to market and manage the missions for the Proton and the Lockheed Martin Atlas launch vehicles.
This is the fourth satellite to be launched in the Intelsat IX series, a line of Loral 1300 spacecraft built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif.
"Proton has once again proven its reliability," said ILS President Mark Albrecht, noting that ILS' two vehicle families have launched 31 Intelsat satellites over three decades. "We look forward to continuing our relationship with Intelsat by flying an Intelsat X satellite on the enhanced Proton M next year," he said.
This was the third launch in less than two months for ILS. The next scheduled ILS mission is the launch of DIRECTV-5 on another Proton K/Block DM, which is the only launch services provider to offer two independent, highly reliable vehicles and two dedicated launch sites. This unique mutual backup capability allows ILS to assure its customers that when their satellites are ready, they will be launched on schedule.