McLEAN, Va., July 25, 2001 – International Launch Services (ILS) and Inmarsat Ventures plc signed a contract this week for the launch of at least one of Inmarsat's next-generation satellites, the Inmarsat I-4, during 2003/2004 using the Atlas V rocket. Financial terms were not disclosed.
This makes Inmarsat the sixth commercial customer to sign up for the Atlas V, which is scheduled to make its debut launch next year. The contract includes options for additional launches. The companies announced the negotiations during last month's Paris Air Show.
ILS President Mark Albrecht noted that Inmarsat used the Atlas IIA vehicle to launch two of its current satellites in 1996. "We are committed to mission success for Inmarsat-I-4," he said, pointing out that the same day the contract was signed, another Atlas rocket was successfully launched, giving the Atlas family the enviable record of 56 consecutive successful missions.
Inmarsat has ordered three Astrium Eurostar 3000 model satellites for its Inmarsat I-4 series. Weighing about 6 metric tons, the spacecraft will be used for Inmarsat's Broadband Global Area Network (B-GAN). Inmarsat has been providing global mobile satellite communications for more than two decades.
The Atlas V family is designed both for ILS commercial missions and to meet the U.S. Air Force requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The first vehicle in the Atlas V series, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, has been shipped to Cape Canaveral, Fla. The inaugural flight is planned for May 2002.
Atlas V is available in a range of configurations to lift payloads up to nearly 8,700 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). It 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 last year, during ILS' successful initial launch of the Atlas III rocket.
ILS is a joint venture formed in 1995 by Lockheed Martin Corp. of the United States and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. It provides launch services on the American Atlas and Russian Proton launch vehicles to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise.
ILS offers the broadest range of launcher products in the world along 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 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.