MCLEAN, Va. --- International Launch Services (ILS) will launch a U.S. Air Force communications satellite on an Atlas V rocket as its first government mission under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
The mission is the launch of Wideband Gapfiller Satellite #2 (WGS-2), scheduled for no earlier than December 2004 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. This is the first of seven Atlas V launches awarded to ILS by the Air Force under the EELV program.
The Air Force authorized ILS this month to begin work to integrate the Atlas V vehicle with the spacecraft.
The Atlas V is produced by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., the latest generation in a long line of reliable rockets. It was developed both to meet Air Force EELV requirements and for ILS commercial missions. Atlas V's highly successful first flight was last Aug. 21 with a commercial payload. The Atlas family of II, III and V series rockets boasts a record of 63 consecutive successful launches.
"I'm pleased to entrust this important national security spacecraft to the Atlas V," said Col. Sue Mashiko, head of the EELV program office at the USAF Space & Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles. "The perfect initial flight of Atlas V last summer, coupled with the Atlas family's incredible record of 63 consecutive successful launches, give us confidence that this satellite will be launched on time."
The Wideband Gapfiller Satellites are designed to augment defense communications services currently provided by the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and the Global Broadcasting Service (GBS), as well as provide a new high-capacity two-way Ka-band service in support of our nation's deployed forces.
"The Air Force was at our side during Atlas V development," said ILS President Mark Albrecht, "and was side-by-side with our commercial customer at the first launch. We look forward to launching WGS-2 as the first dedicated Air Force mission on Atlas V."
The Atlas V family is the most powerful in the Atlas line, designed to lift payloads up to nearly 8700 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). The Atlas V incorporates state-of-the-art designs, materials and processes. To support Atlas V missions, Lockheed Martin built a state-of-the-art launch complex at Cape Canaveral.
The new site introduces the "clean pad" concept to U.S. launch capabilities for the first time, and consolidates the support operations into two facilities: the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC) and the Vertical Integration Facility. The clean pad concept allows the Atlas V vehicle to be assembled, tested and mated with the encapsulated spacecraft away from the pad, thus allowing more flexibility in meeting customer needs.
ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. in the United States and Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with products with the highest reliability in the industry.
ILS' Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. - Space & Strategic Missiles, at facilities in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif.