SAN DIEGO, May 7, 1997 – International Launch Services (ILS) announced today that it has signed new business for the Russian-built Proton rocket. Proton will launch ASTRA 2A, a television broadcast satellite, for Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES) in the fourth quarter of this year. SES is the private operator of the ASTRA satellite system providing television and radio programming to Europe.
“Once again we are pleased with the confidence SES has placed in the Proton launch vehicle with this new business,” said Charles H. Lloyd, President-Proton Division, ILS. “We will always hold SES in special regard since it was their satellite that was the first commercial, western satellite to be launched on Proton.”
ILS, through its contracting affiliate Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International (LKEI), had an existing multi-launch services contract with SES, but the ASTRA 2A mission represents new business between ILS and SES. The first commercial launch on Proton occurred in April 1996 when the ASTRA 1F broadcast satellite was successfully sent into orbit for SES from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
ASTRA 2A, a Hughes HS 601HP model, will be the first SES-operated satellite to be located at their second orbital position of 28.2 degrees East . The other six satellites in the ASTRA system are colocated at 19.2 degrees East. ASTRA 1G, which will also be launched on Proton this year, which will increase the ASTRA constellation to seven. ASTRA 2A at the new orbital position will enable SES to continue to provide sufficient capacity for the delivery of programming targeting specific linguistic markets from a single orbital position.
The Proton launch of ASTRA 2A is one of six commercial ILS-planned launches this year from Baikonur. Through its LKE contracting entity, ILS has firm launch commitments booked on Proton through the year 2000. The combined backlog of ILS with both Proton and Atlas launch business exceeds $3 billion.
ILS is a joint venture 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 Corporation Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia joint venture. Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow.