BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, June 16, 2001 – A Proton rocket successfully launched the ASTRA 2C broadcasting satellite this morning in the second mission in a month conducted by International Launch Services (ILS).
Liftoff occurred at 7:49 a.m. local time (1:49 GMT, 9:49 p.m. EDT June 15) carrying ASTRA 2C to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Spacecraft separation occurred at 2:44 p.m. Baikonur time.
“We celebrate another excellent launch for Proton and Societe Europienne des Satellites (SES),” said ILS President Mark Albrecht. “An ASTRA satellite was the first commercial customer for Proton, in April 1996, and I’m pleased that we have maintained our perfect record through five ASTRA launches. We look forward to repeating our success when Proton launches ASTRA 1K toward the end of this year.”
Albrecht added, “With Protonï¿½s inventory of vehicles and rapid launch tempo, and our launch teamï¿½s familiarity with this customer and the Boeing 601HP satellite model, we were able to provide SES an Express Launch.”
Romain Bausch, director general and chairman of the Management Committee of Luxembourg-based SES, said: “This 12th consecutive ASTRA launch success is the result of a track-proven, highly professional collaboration between ILS’ U.S.-Russian satellite launch experts, Boeing’s satellite manufacturing specialists, and SES’ own dedicated technical team, all of which deserve to be thanked for their efforts. Their combined know-how and flawless teamwork has once again ensured that Proton has served ASTRA right up to expectations.”
ASTRA 2C is the 12th satellite in the ASTRA constellation. Due to its coverage area and flexibility in the combination of uplink and downlink frequencies, the spacecraft is compatible with operations at both of SES’ orbital positions of 19.2 degrees East and 28.2degrees East. ASTRA 2C thereby complements SES’ comprehensive intersatellite protection scheme at both orbital locations. The spacecraft was built by Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. to provide pan-European coverage via 32 transponders at Ku-band.
This launch was the 21st commercial Proton mission to be carried out under the auspices of ILS since the U.S.-Russian joint venture was created in 1995. It also was the second ILS mission of the year. Proton successfully launched the PAS-10 satellite May 15.
The ILS partners are Lockheed Martin Corp. of the United States, manufacturer of the Altas rocket, and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia, who produce the Proton vehicle.
The SES Group operates a satellite services network providing seamless broadband communications spanning four continents. Based in Luxembourg, Societe Europienne des Satellites S.A. (Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SES; Frankfurt Exchange: SDSL) is the operator of ASTRA, Europe’s leading direct-to-home satellite system, and a strategic shareholder in premier satellite operations like AsiaSat (34.10%), NSAB in Scandinavia (50%), and Star One in Latin America (19.99%). On March 28, 2001, SES announced the acquisition of 100% of U.S. operator GE Americom in a $ 5 billion transaction (subject to regulatory approval). To that effect, SES has created SES Global S.A., which will hold all SES Group participations.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry. It provides launch services on the American Atlas and Russian Proton launch vehicles to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise.
ILS’ three-stage Proton and the available Breeze M upper stage are produced by Khrunichev at its factory near Moscow. The alternative Block DM fourth stage used in this mission is built by Energia, also near Moscow. The 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.