MCLEAN, Va.--Feb. 7, 2005
International Launch Services (ILS) has received authorization from the U.S. Air Force to begin operations for launch of a national security payload on an Atlas V vehicle in mid-2007 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
This launch, designated NROL-24 for the National Reconnaissance Office, is one of seven initially assigned to ILS and the Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) Atlas V launcher under the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. ILS, a Lockheed Martin Corp. joint venture, now has 16 EELV assignments. This is the sixth to be given the go-ahead for launch.
Lockheed Martin developed the Atlas V launcher to meet Air Force EELV requirements and for ILS commercial missions. The Atlas V vehicle has flown four times since its debut in 2002 - all successfully and all for commercial customers. The most recent Atlas V launch took place in December from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and another commercial mission is planned for March. The first government EELV launch of Atlas V is planned for April 2006.
The NROL-24 mission will use the Atlas V "401" configuration - with a 4-meter payload fairing, an Atlas Common Core Booster with no solid rocket motors, and a single-engine Centaur upper stage - and will launch from Atlas V's state-of-the-art Launch Complex 41. Details about the payload are classified.
Mark Albrecht, ILS president, said, "Our long and valued partnership with the NRO's Office of Space Launch goes back more than a decade, using many versions of our Atlas vehicles. This contract comes just as we completed the launch campaign for another Office of Space Launch mission, which was Thursday aboard the final Atlas III from the venerable Launch Complex 36. We are pleased that the government continues to entrust us with important missions such as these."
ILS markets and manages government and commercial missions on the Atlas rocket to customers worldwide. It also offers the Russian-built Proton vehicle to commercial customers. The company is headquartered near Washington, D.C.
The Atlas rockets and their Centaur upper stages are built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif.
For more information, visit www.ilslaunch.com.