|BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, March 16, 2004 – A Russian Proton rocket successfully placed the Eutelsat W3A satellite into orbit this morning, marking the second mission in three days for International Launch Services (ILS).This was the first flight of the year for the Khrunichev-built Proton vehicle, which has carried out more than 300 missions for the Russian government and commercial customers over nearly 40 years.
This also was the third mission of the year for ILS. The company’s other vehicle, the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Atlas rocket, successfully launched a satellite Saturday morning from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
“We celebrate another success for Proton, and thank our customer, Eutelsat, for again placing its confidence in us,” said ILS President Mark Albrecht. “This marks the seventh mission on an ILS vehicle for Eutelsat, and we’re proud to say they have all been flawless.”
The Proton vehicle lifted off at 4:06 a.m. local time (6:06 p.m. Monday EST, 23:06 GMT). In less than 10 minutes, the three-stage Proton vehicle finished its climb into space, leaving the Breeze M upper stage to continue the mission for the next nine hours. The Breeze M’s engine underwent five burns to place the W3A satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit at 1:16 p.m. Baikonur time (3:16 a.m. Tuesday EST, 08:16 GMT).
“Our congratulations to ILS for another flawless launch for Eutelsat, which follows six successful launches on the Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral,” said Giuliano Berretta, CEO of Eutelsat. “W3A is the heaviest and most complex satellite yet launched for our company. Its ride into geostationary transfer orbit on the Proton/Breeze M will enable us to optimize the operational lifetime of W3A and take us to new levels of efficiency.”
When it enters service later this year, the W3A satellite will provide broadband, direct-to-home and other communications services to Eutelsat customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It is an EADS Astrium Eurostar E3000 model satellite, the largest spacecraft launched to date for Eutelsat.
“Congratulations to ILS for the successful launch of the Proton, which put W3A in geostationary orbit this morning,” said Antoine Bouvier, CEO of EADS Astrium. “It is a major event for us as it is the maiden launch of a Eurostar E3000 and the first to be launched by Proton.”
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. ILS, based in McLean, Va., markets and manages all missions for Atlas and commercial missions on Proton.