MOSCOW, May 21 1999 – A Proton rocket lifted off this morning from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 4:30 a.m (6:30 p.m. USA and Canada EDT, May 20), carrying Telesat Canada’s NIMIQ satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch was the tenth successful commercial Proton mission to be carried out under the auspices of International Launch Services (ILS), the joint venture stock company owned by Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International (LKEI) and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services.
NIMIQ will be operated by Telesat Canada, a leading provider of telecommunications and broadcast distribution services to the Americas. The spacecraft will be Canada’s first direct broadcast satellite, offering direct-to-home television service from its orbital location at 91 degrees West longitude.
Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center at its factory near Moscow. The fourth stage is built by RSC Energia also near Moscow. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin at its commercial satellite manufacturing facilities in Sunnyvale, CA, USA. Engineers and technicians from ILS, Khrunichev, Lockheed Martin and the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces were responsible for processing the satellite, readying the launch vehicle and conducting the launch.
The Proton/NIMIQ launch was the third ILS commercial launch on Proton to be carried out this year. Proton is also the primary heavy-lift system for Russian government launches as well as selected commercial launches that were secured by Khrunichev before the formation of ILS.
ILS is a joint venture stock company established in 1995 to jointly market Proton and the Lockheed Martin Astronautics-built Atlas to the worldwide satellite launch market. ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International joint venture. ILS is headquartered in San Diego, Calif.