McLEAN, Va., March 26, 2001 – An Atlas III rocket provided by International Launch Services (ILS) has been selected to launch the latest in a line of mobile communications satellites for the U.S. Navy. Lockheed Martin Space Systems builds the Atlas vehicles.
ILS will launch the Navy's UHF Follow-On (UFO) F-11 satellite in 2003 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The satellite's manufacturer, Boeing Satellite Systems Inc., (BSS) has contracted for the launch services with ILS under its delivery-in-orbit contract with the Navy, as it has with the other satellites in the UFO series.
"Atlas has carried all 10 previous UFO satellites throughout the 1990s, so the F-11 launch will be reunion of a great and experienced team," said ILS President Mark J. Albrecht. "We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Navy and satellite manufacturing group."
Albrecht noted that the Atlas III will be the fourth variant of the Atlas family to carry a UFO satellite for the Navy. "As the UFO satellite design has evolved in capability, so too has the Atlas launch vehicle evolved to meet the changing performance needs," he said.
This is the fifth launch ordered from ILS in 2001, and the second Atlas III launch booked this year. It brings the ILS backlog to 40 confirmed missions on its Atlas II, III and V vehicles and Proton K and M rockets. Separate from the backlog are seven missions for the U.S. Air Force, which were assigned to the Atlas V under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
The Atlas III offers increased lift capability to handle spacecraft up to nearly 5 tons. The vehicle debuted in May 2000, continuing the Atlas tradition of successful first flights of all variants, each carrying a paying customer. Another Atlas III is scheduled to carry the Echostar 7 satellite in the fourth quarter of this year. The Atlas family boasts 54 consecutive successful missions.
Atlas III uses the Russian-built RD-180 engine, the first American-designed launch vehicle to use a Russian propulsion system. The RD-180 will also power the Atlas V, which Lockheed Martin is developing for the EELV program and commercial missions. The first Atlas V is in the final assembly stages and will be launched next year.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International. It provides launch services to customers worldwide using both the American Atlas and the Russian Proton rocket families.
ILS was formed in 1995. Its Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations at facilities in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif. The three-stage Proton is produced by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center at its factory near Moscow. The fourth stage is built by RSC Energia, also near Moscow.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry.