Atlas III, the newest rocket
to fly from the historic Complex 36 launch site at Cape Canaveral, made its
debut this afternoon in a dramatic liftoff powered by the new Russian RD-180
The liftoff occurred at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, followed by
successful separation of the W4 spacecraft and insertion into geosynchronous
transfer orbit just under 29 minutes later.

“A successful inaugural launch is a joyous occasion for all of the people
who have worked so hard to make it a reality,” said Dr. Mark J. Albrecht,
President of International Launch Services (ILS), provider of the launch
“The launch is marked by a number of important ‘firsts’ for all of
the organizations involved.”

For ILS, the launch marks the 50th consecutive successful Atlas flight, a
record of reliability that has become the standard in the commercial launch
services industry.
The successful flight proves the new hardware that will
carry the Atlas launch vehicle family into the new millennium and bridge
today’s launch services to the future and the introduction of Atlas V.

For EUTELSAT, the launch service provided orbital insertion for their 17th
W4 will join SESAT at its 36 degrees East position.
launched on a Proton launcher on April 5.
The two satellites will enable
EUTELSAT to consolidate its position in Europe as a leading provider of
capacity for television and data services.
W4 was built by Alcatel Space.

“Congratulations to ILS on the successful launch of the Atlas III launch
vehicle, which has boosted a new digital communications for EUTELSAT into
space,” said Mr. Guiliano Berretta, Eutelsat.
“With beams over Russia and
Africa, W4 opens doors for the launch of major consumer pay-TV platforms and
business-to-business services in two geographically distinct regions rich with
This fully underpins our strategy to evolve into a truly
international satellite enterprise.”

For Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC), the successful launch
is the culmination of a long period of development and testing of the new
Atlas III launch vehicle configuration, including the RD-180 engine that
powered the Atlas booster phase of flight, as well as the single-engine
configuration on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage, which has always used a
dual-engine system.

“We had a vision back in 1993 of where we wanted to take the Atlas family
of rockets to meet the objectives laid out in our company’s overall launch
vehicle strategy,” said Tom Marsh, President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Company – Astronautics Operations.
“With today’s launch, we celebrate a major
milestone in the continuing success story of Atlas and our company’s
commitment to being the preeminent launch vehicle manufacturer.”

For Pratt & Whitney and RD AMROSS, the joint venture company with P&W and
NPO Energomash, the flight marked the first Atlas flight to be totally powered
by propulsion either produced or provided by P&W.

“Today’s launch is a major accomplishment for the Lockheed Martin, NPO
Energomash, Pratt & Whitney and RD AMROSS team, and provides a great reward
for the unflagging effort by this team,” said Larry Knauer, President, P&W
Space and Russian Operations.
“As a member of this formidable team, P&W is
extremely pleased with today’s success and is enthusiastically looking forward
to supporting many more successful launches for the Atlas III.”

The AC-201 flight marks the first Russian rocket engine to be provided by
Pratt & Whitney and is the first Russian rocket engine to power an American
launch vehicle.
A P&W upper stage engine, the RL10 (RL10A-4-1B model),
powered the Atlas first single-engine Centaur configuration.

International Launch Services is a joint venture stock company established
in 1995 to market launch services on Atlas and the Russian-built Proton to the
global space communications industry.
ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin
Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International
joint venture with Russian companies Khrunichev and RSC Energia.
ILS is
headquartered in Reston, VA, with additional offices in Denver, CO, and
Moscow, Russian Federation.
ILS manages all tasks associated with providing
launch services including technical, management and marketing expertise.

Astronautics Operations is one of the operating units of Lockheed Martin
Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, CO.
Astronautics Operations
designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology
systems for space and defense.
Chief products include interplanetary
spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems.

P&W Propulsion includes liquid rocket and hypersonic propulsion at Liquid
Space Propulsion, located at West Palm Beach, FL; solid rocket propulsion at
Chemical Systems Division, located at San Jose, CA; Russian rocket engines at
RD AMROSS LLC., located at West Palm Beach, FL; and automated spray systems
and services at Advanced Systems Technology, located at Huntsville, AL.
is a unit of United Technologies Corporation of Hartford, CT.

Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise
principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and
integration of advanced technology systems, products and services.
Corporation’s core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics, and
technology services.
Employing more than 140,000 people worldwide, Lockheed
Martin had 1999 sales surpassing $25 billion.