BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, Dec. 29, 2005 International Launch Services (ILS) wrapped up a successful year today with the launch of its Proton Breeze M vehicle carrying the AMC-23 communications satellite.
This was the seventh mission of the year for ILS, a Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) joint venture that markets satellite launches on the Russian-built Proton vehicle as well as the American Atlas rocket.
The Proton launcher lifted off at 8:28 a.m. today local time at the Baikonur space center (9:28 p.m. Wednesday EST, 02:28 today GMT). After about nine hours and 20 minutes, the satellite separated from the Breeze M upper stage and entered a transfer orbit. Following a few weeks of maneuvers and in-orbit tests, the satellite will provide services throughout the Pacific Ocean region.
"This launch continues the 100 percent success record of the Proton Breeze M vehicle," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "Our thanks to Alcatel Alenia Space and SES AMERICOM for once again having the confidence that ILS would deliver the satellite safely into orbit."
The satellite is a Spacebus 4000 model built by Alcatel Alenia Space, which contracted for the launch on behalf of SES AMERICOM. An ILS Proton vehicle successfully launched AMC-12, another Spacebus 4000, last February. Since June 2003, ILS has launched six SES AMERICOM satellites, a third of its fleet.
Commenting on this success, Pascale Sourisse, president and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space, said: "I would like to congratulate ILS, SES AMERICOM as well as Alcatel Alenia Space's teams for this achievement. This successful launch gives us great confidence that the satellite will meet its performance objectives."
Sourisse added: "We are very proud of being a supplier to the American satellite operator SES AMERICOM, once again giving them the best of our technological expertise. We are delighted that our long-term relationships with both SES AMERICOM and ILS resulted in todayï¿½s success."
Edward Horowitz, president and CEO of SES AMERICOM, said: "The launch of AMC-23 is a proud moment for the AMERICOM team. It also is a proud moment for the Alcatel Alenia team who built and delivered an exceptional spacecraft, and for the ILS team, on the occasion of the 318th Proton launch. We are now looking forward to bringing this satellite into service so that Connexion by Boeing can initiate its trans-Pacific airline passenger services."
International Launch Services is the global leader in the space launch industry, offering the two best launch systems: Atlas and Proton. With a remarkable launch tempo, the Atlas and Proton launch vehicles have consistently demonstrated the reliability and flexibility that have made them preferred choice among satellite operators worldwide. ILS was formed in 1995, and is based in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2004 sales of $35.5 billion.