MOSCOW, Dec. 3, 1997 – A Proton rocket blasted into space this morning from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 4:10 a.m (6:10 p.m. EST, Dec. 2) carrying the ASTRA 1G satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch was the fourth 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, to provide commercial launch services on the Russian-built rocket.
“Once again, we have accomplished mission success for our SES customer thanks to the outstanding international teamwork among our Russian partners and the American and European companies involved in this important launch,” said Charles H. Lloyd, President of ILS.
ASTRA 1G will be operated by SES, the leading provider of television, radio and new media services to Europe. It will be copositioned with the other six satellites in the ASTRA Satellite System at 19.2 degrees East longitude, creating the world’s first orbital position offering 120 copositioned transponders.
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 & Communications Company of El Segundo, CA, USA. Engineers and technicians from ILS, Khrunichev, SES, Hughes and the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces were responsible for processing the satellite, readying the launch vehicle and conducting the launch.
The Proton/ASTRA 1G launch was the third of four ILS commercial launches 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 advent 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, CA, USA.