MOSCOW, Aug. 30, 1998 – A Proton rocket blasted into space this morning from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 6:31 a.m (8:31 p.m. EDT, Aug. 29) carrying the ASTRA 2A satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch was the sixth 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.
ASTRA 2A will be operated by Société Européenne des Satellites (SES), the leading provider of television, radio and new media services in Europe. The spacecraft will be the first to be permanently positioned at 28.2 degrees East longitude, which SES aims to develop into the prime orbital position for the distribution of digital services to the UK and Ireland. Currently, six of the other seven satellites in the ASTRA Satellite System are copositioned at 19.2 degrees East 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 Hughes Space and 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 2A launch was the second 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, CA, USA.