BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Aug. 22, 2002 – A Russian-built Proton rocket successfully delivered its EchoStar VIII satellite payload into orbit today, marking the sixth mission this year for International Launch Services (ILS).
The Proton K/Block DM rocket lifted off at 11:15 a.m. local time (1:15 a.m. EDT, 5:15 GMT), and placed the EchoStar VIII direct-broadcast satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit 6 hours and 36 minutes later. This was the third Proton mission of the year for ILS, and the fifth Proton flight overall for 2002. Proton has had 100 percent success in all 24 of its launches over the last 30 months, for both Russian government missions and for commercial flights managed by ILS, based in McLean, Va.
This was also ILS' second mission in seven hours. At 6:05 p.m. Aug. 21 EDT (22:05 GMT), the first in the Atlas V series of rockets built by Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and two Russian companies, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas and the Proton.
The successful launch of EchoStar VIII brings EchoStar Communication Corp.'s fleet to eight satellites. From its 110 degrees West longitude orbital position, EchoStar VIII's spot-beam feature will allow a more efficient use of spectrum, enabling EchoStar to expand its DISH Network local-into-local satellite TV service and increase in-orbit backup capacity.
This was the second satellite launched this year by ILS for EchoStar, based in Littleton, Colo. The EchoStar VII satellite was successfully launched Feb. 21 on an Atlas III rocket.
"We appreciate the confidence that EchoStar has shown in ILS by choosing our vehicles for two launches in a short time frame," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "Proton's reliability is legendary, and we're proud to celebrate another successful mission." ILS vehicles have launched six of EchoStar's eight satellites.
EchoStar VIII is a 1300 model satellite built by Space Systems/Loral. Albrecht noted that this is the third Loral-built satellite to be launched on Proton this year.
The ILS joint venture was honored this summer with the 2002 Market Engineering Strategic Alliance Leadership Award from consulting and training firm Frost & Sullivan. ILS was cited for having led the market in number of launches worldwide for the last three years.
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 assembled by Khrunichev at its plant near Moscow. The alternative Block DM upper stage is built by Energia, also near Moscow.
EchoStar Communications Corp. and its DISH Network satellite TV system provide over 500 channels of digital video and CD-quality audio programming, as well as advanced satellite TV receiver hardware and installation nationwide. EchoStar is included in the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX). DISH Network currently serves approximately 7.46 million customers. For more information, contact 1-800/333-DISH (3474) or visit http://www.dishnetwork.com.