McLEAN, Va., Oct. 30, 2001 – International Launch Services (ILS) and Space Communications Corp. (SCC) of Tokyo have signed a contract for launch of the SUPERBIRD-6 satellite in October 2003. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The contract calls for a launch on an Atlas IIAS rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. SUPERBIRD-6 is a Boeing 601 model, which will deliver business communications services from its orbital location of 158 degrees east longitude. This is the second SUPERBIRD satellite to be launched by ILS; the previous, SUPERBIRD-C, was also a 601 model flown on Atlas IIAS in 1997.
With SUPERBIRD-6, ILS has announced contracts this year for 12 launches on the full range of its Atlas and Proton vehicle families. ILS has conducted six flights thus far in 2001, and all were successful.
"We understand how important this satellite is to build SCC's business, and we are proud to provide a vehicle with such a reliable heritage for the launch of SUPERBIRD-6," said ILS President Mark Albrecht.
The Atlas launch vehicle family, built by Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Space Systems Company, has a 100 percent success record since 1993, with 58 perfect launches.
"SCC is very pleased to work again with ILS," said President Teruhiko Ena. "We expect ILS will provide the same level of timely, professional and successful mission with SUPERBIRD-6 as we experienced with the SUPERBIRD-C mission."
The Atlas IIAS, with a lift capability of 3,700 kg (8,200 pounds) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), is one of three current production models. The Atlas III series, which can lift as much as 4,500 kg (9,920 pounds) to GTO, had a successful inaugural flight last year. A second Atlas III mission is set for December.
The third Atlas series is the Atlas V, which will have its first flight next May. The Atlas V family is designed to lift payloads up to nearly 8,700 kg (19,100 pounds) to GTO. It was developed both for ILS commercial missions and to meet U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The Atlas V incorporates state-of-the-art designs, materials and processes, including the throttleable, Russian-built RD-180 engine, the first variable-thrust main engine to power a U.S. expendable launch vehicle. The RD-180 and most of the other technologies for Atlas V were flight-proven on the Atlas III rocket last year.
ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services on the American Atlas and the Russian Proton vehicles to customers worldwide. It is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin in the United States, with Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia.
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 K and M vehicles and the available Breeze M upper stage are produced by Khrunichev at its factory near Moscow. The alternative Block DM upper stage is built by Energia, also near Moscow.