BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Dec. 30, 2002 – A next-generation Proton launch vehicle carried the Nimiq 2 satellite into orbit today, bringing the year to a successful close for International Launch Services (ILS).This was the first commercial mission for the Russian-built Proton M/Breeze M rocket configuration. The vehicle lifted off at 4:17 a.m. today local time (6:17 p.m. Sunday EST, 23:17 Sunday GMT). Six hours and 53 minutes later, the satellite was released into a transfer orbit. The satellite, designed for direct broadcast services, was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, and will be operated by Telesat Canada.
“The Proton vehicle has once again proven its reliability,” said ILS President Mark Albrecht. “Proton is the workhorse of the Russian fleet, and Proton M with the Breeze M upper stage builds upon that heritage while featuring more lift capability, advanced materials and digital avionics.”
ILS has conducted 10 launches this year, five each on Atlas and Proton, using all variants – Atlas IIA, IIAS, III and V, and Proton K and M. In addition, the Proton has flown four missions for the Russian government, for a total of nine launches this year. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, which builds the Atlas; and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia, producers of the Proton vehicles. Today’s launch was the 26th for ILS on Proton.
This was the second Nimiq satellite launched on Proton. The Nimiq 1 spacecraft was launched May 21, 1999.
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 was formed in 1995 to provide launch services to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise. It offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry.