BAIKONUR COSMODROME, KAZAKHSTAN, May 8, 1998 –A Proton rocket blasted into space this morning from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan at 5:45 a.m. (7:45 p.m. USA EDT, May 7) carrying the EchoStar IV commercial communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The launch was the fifth 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.
“ILS is proud to have provided a successful launch for EchoStar on the Proton launch vehicle,” said Charles H. Lloyd, President of ILS. “ILS and Lockheed Martin worked with the EchoStar team to launch EchoStar III on Atlas, and now we have a second mutual mission success to celebrate.”
EchoStar IV will be operated by EchoStar Communications Corp. headquartered in Littleton, CO, USA. Once on orbit, it will be positioned at 119 degrees West longitude, the present orbital location of EchoStar II. The two satellites will become the primary service satellites for the DISH Network, providing video, audio and data services throughout the continental United States and Hawaii and Alaska.
Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center factory in Moscow. The fourth stage is built by RSC Energia also near Moscow. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin of 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/EchoStar IV launch was the first ILS commercial launch to be carried out this year and the sixth ILS/Proton launch overall. 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. The 1998 ILS commercial Proton schedule calls for six more launches this year.
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.