MOSCOW, March 21, 1999 – A Proton rocket lifted off this morning from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 5:09:30 a.m (8:09:30 a.m. Hong Kong, 7:09:30 p.m. USA EST, March 20) successfully carrying the AsiaSat 3S commercial communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch was the ninth 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.
“We are extremely pleased that the Proton launch vehicle has provided a very accurate orbital insertion for AsiaSat,” said Wilbur C. Trafton, Acting President-ILS. “This was an important launch for all of the organizations involved – ILS, AsiaSat, and Hughes – and an outstanding team effort.”
AsiaSat 3S will be operated by Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. headquartered in Hong Kong. Once on orbit, it will be positioned at 105.5 degrees East longitude, the present orbital location of AsiaSat 1. AsiaSat 3S will provide television distribution and telecommunications services throughout Asia, the Middle East, Australasia and the C.I.S.
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 Hughes Space and Communications Company of El Segundo, Calif., USA. Engineers and technicians from ILS, Khrunichev, Hughes and the Russian Strategic Missile Forces were responsible for processing the satellite, readying the launch vehicle and conducting the launch.
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., USA.