McLEAN, Va., Feb. 5, 2001 – International Launch Services (ILS) and EchoStar Communications Corp. announced an agreement today for the launch of two geostationary direct broadcast satellites, plus options for launching additional spacecraft. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The first satellite, EchoStar VII, is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year on a Lockheed Martin Atlas III rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The second, EchoStar VIII, is expected to be launched during the first quarter of 2002 on a Russian Proton K rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. ILS manages all tasks associated with providing launch services on both vehicle families, including technical, management and marketing expertise.
The Atlas III offers increased lift capability to handle today's and future large spacecraft. It is part of the company's planned evolution of expendable launch vehicles. The first Atlas III successfully carried the Eutelsat W4 spacecraft to orbit last May.
"EchoStar's choice of the Atlas III for its next satellite demonstrates confidence in this vehicle and its heritage," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We're proud of the 100% success record of the Atlas II family, and look forward to making it 2 for 2 with Atlas III.
"ILS has launched four other EchoStar satellites on Atlas and Proton. We believe that it's our reliable launchers and excellent service that brings us the return business," Albrecht added.
Both spacecraft are high-powered direct broadcast satellites that will enhance services for DISH Networkï¿½, EchoStar's state-of-the-art DBS entertainment service. EchoStar VII is built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems; EchoStar VIII is from Space Systems/Loral. EchoStar has options to buy more vehicles through 2006.
EchoStar, based in Littleton, Colo., has the capability to offer 500 channels of digital video and CD-quality audio programming with its DISH Network satellite TV system. It serves more than five million customers nationwide.
ILS, headquartered in McLean, Va., is a joint venture stock company established in 1995. It is owned by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International joint venture. 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.
The Atlas III is an extension of that international cooperation. It uses the RD-180 engine, which is marketed and sold by RD AMROSS, LLC, a joint venture formed by Pratt & Whitney, an operating unit of United Technologies Corp. based in West Palm Beach, Fla., and NPO Energomash of Khimky, Russia. The Atlas III is the first American-designed launch vehicle to use a Russian propulsion system. The RD-180 will also be used on the upcoming Atlas V family of vehicles, the first of which will be launched next year.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry.