CAPE CANAVERAL Air Station, Fla., June 30, 2000 – A Lockheed Martin Atlas IIA rocket lifted off from Complex 36 Pad A this morning, successfully placing the first of the next-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) into geosynchronous transfer orbit for NASA. Liftoff occurred at 8:56 a.m. EDT followed by successful spacecraft separation just under 30 minutes later. It was the fifth straight successful Atlas launch of 2000 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the 51st consecutive successful flight of Atlas.
“ILS is proud to provide mission success for the first in the new generation of tracking and data relay satellites for NASA,” said Dr. Mark J. Albrecht, President of International Launch Services. “Since the start of the commercial Atlas program, we have provided 100 percent success for NASA missions on Atlas.”
The Atlas IIA, designated AC-139 for the TDRS-H mission, is one of two Atlas II family configurations presently launching satellites for government and commercial customers worldwide. The Atlas II series, including the II, IIA and IIAS, has achieved 100 percent operational success starting with the inaugural launch of each vehicle. Specifically, the Atlas IIA has tallied 19 successes in 19 flights.
TDRS-H is the first of three next-generation tracking satellites that will launch aboard Atlas. Once operational at 171 degrees West longitude, TDRS-H will become TDRS-8 and join the six satellites already on orbit in the TDRS fleet. All of the other TDRS satellites have been launched from the space shuttle. TDRS-H was built by Hughes Space and Communications Company of El Segundo, CA.
Atlas and the Centaur upper stage are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company at facilities in Denver, CO; Harlingen, TX; and San Diego, CA. Major suppliers to the Atlas program include Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing, located in Canoga Park, CA, Atlas MA-5A engine; Pratt & Whitney, located in West Palm Beach, FL, Centaur upper stage RL-10 engines; Honeywell Space Systems of Clearwater, FL, inertial navigation unit, and BAE SYSTEMS, San Diego, CA, avionics units.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company provides launch operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Complex 36. Mission management is provided by International Launch Services, Reston, VA, formed in 1995 to jointly market Atlas and the Russian-built Proton launch services to the international and domestic satellite industry.