SAN DIEGO, Feb. 1, 2000 – International Launch Services (ILS), through its contracting entity Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, has signed a contract with Eutelsat to launch the Eutelsat W4 communications satellite on the first Atlas III rocket. The launch is presently scheduled at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida,USA, for launch in late March/early April.
"This latest contract with Eutelsat extends a long and mutually successful relationship with one of the leading international satellite communications organizations in the world," said Dr. Mark J. Albrecht, ILS President. "Our relationship goes back to the beginning of the Atlas commercial space program when Eutelsat was the first commercial customer to sign with Atlas. Now we are pleased that this important customer has once again expressed confidence in the Atlas vehicle by flying the first Atlas IIIA."
Added Albrecht, "We are also pleased that we will be ready to launch Eutelsat W4 in just over four monthsï¿½ one of the fastest integration times in the industry for a new payload, demonstrating that ILS is meeting our customers' demands for rapid launch commitments." The four-month mission integration began in late November 1999.
AC-201, a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIIA vehicle intended for the W4 launch, is presently at Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, where it is in storage awaiting the start of stacking activity on Pad 36B. AC-201 had begun processing in early 1999 and was proceeding through all of the normal test and checkout milestones toward a June launch when the Delta III failure occurred, imposing an RL10 engine flight constraint on Atlas. Four successful launches since then have validated the reliability of the RL10 engine used on the Centaur upper stage.
W4 will be operated by Eutelsat in geostationary orbit at 36 degrees East. Its 31 Ku-band transponders will have a dual missionï¿½ to provide capacity for consumer digital broadcasting services in Russia and to enable Eutelsat to develop new markets for pay-TV, telecommunications and IP (internet protocol)-based services in sub-Saharan Africa. W4 is being delivered to Eutelsat by Alcatel Space. Based in Paris, Eutelsat is Europe's leading satellite operator and ranks as one of the largest globally.
Atlas III is built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company at facilities in Denver, CO; Harlingen, TX,; and San Diego, CA. ILS is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Khrunichev Space Center in Russia to provide commercial launch services using Atlas and the Russian Proton.
Major suppliers to the Atlas III program are RD AMROSS, LLC, the Pratt & Whitney and NPO Energomash joint venture to produce RD-180 engines for the Atlas booster; Pratt & Whitney, RL10 engines for the Centaur upper stage; Honeywell Space Systems, inertial navigation unit; and GDE Marconi Systems, Inc., avionics systems.