BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, June 26, 2002 – Officials of International Launch Services (ILS) announced that the launch of the EchoStar VIII satellite will be rescheduled as soon as testing on the Loral-built spacecraft has been completed.
The satellite was scheduled for liftoff aboard a Russian Proton rocket Saturday. During the final hours of the launch countdown, satellite engineers were unable to confirm the complete functionality of a command receiver on the spacecraft. The launch has been delayed to allow Loral to conduct further satellite testing.
"Proton's professional team has demonstrated several times over the last two years their ability to accommodate customers with tight schedules, and to launch several rockets in a period of a few weeks," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "Delays of this kind often occur in our business. Clearly, this illustrates the advantage ILS offers with dedicated launch vehicles and the ability to respond rapidly to changing situations. When the EchoStar VIII satellite is ready, we will have a vehicle ready, too. "
Saturday's launch would have been the third Proton mission of the year for ILS, and the fourth Proton flight overall for 2002. Proton has had 100 percent success in all 23 of its launches over the last 29 months, for both Russian government missions and for commercial flights managed by ILS, based in McLean, Va.
This also would have been the second satellite launched this year by ILS for EchoStar Communications Corp. of Littleton, Colo. The EchoStar VII satellite was successfully launched Feb. 21 on an Atlas IIIB rocket.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and two Russian companies, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas and the Proton.
The ILS joint venture was honored last week with the 2002 Market Engineering Strategic Alliance Leadership Award from consulting and training firm Frost & Sullivan. ILS was cited for having led the market in number of launches worldwide for the last three years.
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 is assembled by Khrunichev at its plant near Moscow. The Block DM upper stage is built by Energia, also near Moscow. Khrunichev also provides an alternative upper stage called the Breeze M.