International Launch Services (ILS) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully launched the Rainbow 1 satellite today – the third flight for the Atlas V vehicle since the rocket debuted last summer.

This mission, designated AV-003, also marked the 66th consecutive successful flight for the Atlas rocket family, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. of Denver, Colo. The satellite is an A2100 model, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Newtown, Pa. Cablevision’s RLDBS project will use the high-powered satellite to introduce its Rainbow direct-to-home broadcast services to the contiguous United States.

Liftoff was at 7:45 p.m., with separation of the satellite occurring 1 hour and 40 minutes later. The Atlas V rocket was flown in its “521” configuration, meaning it was fitted with a 5-meter-diameter fairing and two solid rocket motors. The larger fairing was chosen to accommodate the satellite’s sophisticated antenna array.

The Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage vehicle released the satellite into a nearly perfect transfer orbit. The apogee, or high point, was 35,843 km (target was 35,845 km); perigee, or low point, was on target at 3,790 km; and inclination was also right on target at 17.54 degrees.

“With another successful Atlas flight, we continue to demonstrate the reliability that our commercial and government customers have come to expect from ILS,” said Mark Albrecht, president of ILS. “We’re honored that Cablevision chose the Lockheed Martin team to build a great satellite and launch it on a great rocket.”

This was the fourth mission and fourth success of the year for ILS, of McLean, Va., a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and two Russian companies. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas and the Russian-built Proton and Angara launch vehicles.

“Today’s launch is an excellent example of the synergies inherent in Lockheed Martin’s businesses,” said Ted Gavrilis, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space, which arranged for the launch as a delivery-in-orbit mission. “Our A2100 satellite and the ILS-provided Atlas V make a powerful combination for mission success, and we are proud to be part of launching a new direct-to-home service for Cablevision.”

ILS was formed in 1995 to provide launch services to customers worldwide, including technical, management and marketing expertise. Lockheed Martin’s partners in the venture are Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS offers the broadest range of launch services in the world along with the highest reliability in the industry. For more information, visit