SAN DIEGO, June 24, 1996 – International Launch Services (ILS) has acquired the first commercial customer for the newest Atlas launch vehicle, the IIAR, which is in development at Lockheed Martin Astronautics and scheduled for first flight in 1998 from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL.
The customer, Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, CA, has signed up for two firm Atlas IIAR launches, plus an option for a third. The firm launches, for undetermined payloads, are expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 1998 and the third quarter of 1999.
“We appreciate Loral’s confidence in being the first to fly the newest Atlas and think it speaks well of the Atlas family’s reputation for reliability,” said Michael R. Wash, President-Atlas Division, ILS. “Each new configuration in the Atlas II series has flown successfully in its debut, and we expect to continue that record when we launch a Loral-built spacecraft on the first IIAR.”
The agreement extends Space Systems/Loral’s business with ILS. The operating companies making up ILS are launching two TEMPO direct-broadcast satellites over the next year, one on a Proton in December and the next on an Atlas IIA in Spring 1997. There is also a scheduled launch of Telestar-5 on the Proton in May 1997. Proton and an Atlas IIAS will also each launch an MCI direct-to-home television satellite in late 1997 and early 1998, respectively.
Atlas IIAR is the centerpiece of Lockheed Martin’s strategy to retain its worldwide launch vehicle leadership through the evolution of mature U.S.-developed technology plus incorporation of Russian propulsion expertise in the vehicle. The IIAR – “R” for reengined – satisfies the commercial marketplace demand for improvements in performance, reliability, operability and cost.
“This agreement broadens the range of launch vehicles and services we can offer to our domestic and international telecommunications satellite customers,” said Robert E. Berry, president of Space Systems/Loral. “The Atlas IIAR, because of its planned performance and reliability factors, will enable us to meet stringent cost and schedule
goals for our customers.”
The Atlas IIAR design reduces the number of engines on the vehicle from nine to two. The present stage-and-a-half design, with optional solid rocket boosters on the Atlas IIAS, will be replaced with a single-stage booster with a Russian designed RD-180 engine derived from the NPO Energomash-built RD-170. The present two-engine Centaur upper stage will use only one engine. Fewer engines and a reduction in the number of staging events during launch improve vehicle reliability.
The new Atlas IIAR will deliver 8,400 lbs to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) or more depending on mission design. This is an increase in performance over the present Atlas II family, which has a range of 5,000 to 8,150 lbs to GTO. The Atlas IIAR program is on schedule and completed its preliminary design review in May, a major milestone on the way to full production.
ILS is a joint venture company established in 1995 to jointly market Atlas and Proton to the worldwide satellite launch market. ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Martin joint venture with Khrunichev and RSC Energia in Russia. Atlas is built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics at facilities in Denver, CO; San Diego, CA; and Harlingen, TX. Proton is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow.