McLEAN, Va., April 10, 2003 – International Launch Services (ILS) and Eutelsat SA have signed a contract for launching the W3A satellite on a Proton rocket.
The W3A launch is planned for late 2003 using the powerful Proton M/Breeze M configuration. The satellite is an Astrium Eurostar 3000 model, similar to several already scheduled for launch on Proton vehicles.
This will be the seventh Eutelsat launch on an ILS vehicle, and the company's first on an ILS Proton. Eutelsat, one of the world's leading satellite operators, has launched six times successfully on ILS' Lockheed Martin-built Atlas rocket. Three of those missions were the inaugural flights of Atlas variants – Atlas II, Atlas III and Atlas V. Lockheed Martin developed Atlas V to meet not only commercial requirements, but also to provide the U.S. government with assured access to space through the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
ILS President Mark Albrecht said: "Eutelsat is a long-time and valued customer. Our ties go back to the late 1980s, when Eutelsat was the first customer to purchase a commercial Atlas launch, giving rise to the U.S. commercial launch industry. We have provided Eutelsat with six excellent Atlas launches, and we appreciate their continued confidence in ILS by choosing Proton this time. ILS prides itself on having the world's most reliable launch vehicles, with comparable capabilities, enabling us to offer mutual backup. Thus we provide our customers with schedule assurance, which is the cornerstone of our business."
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) in the United States, which builds the Atlas rocket; and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. Khrunichev produces the Proton vehicles and the Breeze M upper stage.
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.