BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Aug. 5, 2006 – A Proton Breeze M launch vehicle successfully placed the HOT BIRD 8 satellite into orbit today, for the fourth launch of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
The launcher lifted off at 3:48 a.m. Saturday local time (23:48 Friday CET, 21:48 Friday GMT, 17:48 Friday EDT). The mission lasted 9 hours and 11 minutes before HOT BIRD 8 was released into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The satellite is a Eurostar E3000 model built for Eutelsat by EADS Space. From its final orbital position of 13 degrees East longitude, HOT BIRD 8 will serve customers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
This was Eutelsat's second launch on an ILS Proton vehicle, following six on ILS's other vehicle, the American Atlas launcher. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Russian rocket builder Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. ILS markets and manages the missions on the Atlas and Proton vehicles for commercial satellite customers worldwide.
"We appreciate the continued confidence Eutelsat has shown Proton," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. He noted that the launch campaign proceeded smoothly, on schedule, after the spacecraft arrived at the Baikonur launch site July 6.
"Today's successful launch was made possible through the exceptional levels of commitment by ILS and Khrunichev to the Proton launch vehicle. Our HOT BIRD 8 broadcast satellite is now well on course to its final destination at our prime video neighborhood at 13 degrees East, and we look forward to bringing it into commercial service in October," said Eutelsat CEO Giuliano Berretta.
Albrecht said, "ILS is now on track to complete six launches in 2006 – we have seen two each for Proton Breeze M and Atlas V, and have two more planned for Proton. The Russian government plans a total of three Proton launches this year, so with seven missions Proton remains the workhorse of the industry.
"Additionally, the Atlas V is scheduled to fly with its first U.S. Air Force EELV mission late in the year," Albrecht said. "This complementary mix of 10 government and commercial missions ensure a good launch tempo that benefits all customers."
ILS was formed in 1995, and is based in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2005 sales of $37.2 billion.