McLEAN, Va., Dec. 12, 2001 — International Launch Services (ILS) wraps up 2001 with total success in its six Atlas and Proton launches, and new orders that include the inaugural flight of the Atlas V vehicle next year.
The four Atlas launches consisted of communications and weather satellites, and the two Proton flights carried communications satellites. Proton also conducted four successful missions in 2001 for the Russian government, the most recent of which was Dec. 1. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company manufactures the Atlas rocket. The Proton is provided by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia of Russia. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev and Energia.
"At ILS, we never waver in our commitment to Mission Success," said President Mark Albrecht. "That's why our customers trust their businesses to us, and return to us for additional launches. With Atlas and Proton, they're getting the highest reliability in the industry as well as mutual backup to assure they can launch on schedule." Over the last 24 months, Atlas and Proton together have flown 32 times – "an incredible launch tempo," Albrecht said.
Most of the 12 orders ILS announced this year were for repeat customers. This includes the launch of EUTELSAT's Hot Bird 6 on the first flight of Atlas V, scheduled for next May.
"Once again EUTELSAT demonstrated its confidence in ILS and the Atlas family, by signing up to be the customer for the first launch of an Atlas variant," Albrecht said. "Our long and mutually successful relationship goes back to the beginning of the Atlas commercial space program, when EUTELSAT was our first commercial customer and flew on the first Atlas II." A EUTELSAT satellite also was the first passenger for Atlas III, which made its debut in 2000.
"This continues the Atlas tradition of always carrying a commercial customer on a first flight," Albrecht said. "Atlas has an enviable record of 58 consecutive successful launches."
ILS received three other Atlas V orders in 2001, as well as two for Atlas III and one for Atlas IIAS, all from commercial customers. It also announced five commercial missions for Proton. Proton has attained 20 consecutive successful launches including its Russian federal missions; overall Proton's record is 96 percent over more than 280 flights. The ILS backlog stands at nearly $3 billion for launches through 2004. This follows a record-setting year in 2000, with 14 ILS launches, all successful, and $1 billion in new commercial business signed.
The Atlas V family is Lockheed Martin's next-generation launch vehicle, designed to lift payloads up to nearly 8700 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). It was developed both for ILS commercial missions and to meet the U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV).
The Atlas V 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 in 2000, during ILS' successful inaugural launch of Atlas III. The RD-180 recently completed more than 27,500 seconds of test firing time, equivalent to the duration of more than 130 nominal Atlas V missions.
In preparation for the first launch, the Atlas V vehicle recently completed a "booster on stand" operation, which involved assembling the rocket's booster stage, Centaur upper stage and connecting segments in the new vertical integration facility at Cape Canaveral, Fla. This milestone caps a period of sustained test and validation activity associated with the vehicle and the ground infrastructure at the launch complex.
The Proton vehicle also marked a milestone in 2001 with the first launch of its Proton M version, featuring more powerful engines, structural enhancements to support the increased lift capability and a state-of-the-art digital guidance system. This flight also used the upgraded Breeze M upper stage to place a Russian government satellite in orbit on April 7. Together the components provide enhanced performance, greater payload volume and increased mission design flexibility.
ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services on the American Atlas and the Russian Proton vehicles to customers worldwide. ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with products 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 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.