The US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has contracted ILS International Launch Services to launch a satellite in 1999 aboard the new Atlas 3A booster. ILS beat Boeing's Delta III in a head to head sealed-bid competition. The NRO, which normally uses Titan IV boosters, will be the second customer for the Atlas 3A, which is boosted by a Russian-designed RD-180 engine. Loral has two bookings for the Atlas 3A, including the maiden launch in early 1999.

Source: Flight International