International Launch Services (ILS) plans up to six Russian Proton/Breeze M launches from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in 2005. These include the DirecTV 8, Anik F1R, Worldsat 3, Measat 3 and Arabsat 4A satellites.

The sixth satellite is SES Astra's 1KR, which has been switched to ILS from Arianespace, as has Eutelsat's Hot Bird 8, which will fly on a Proton/Breeze M in 2006. It is understood the switch from Ariane­space is related to insurance issues.

The Astra and Hot Bird satellites were to have flown on the Ariane 5 ECA, but the launch insurance policy, for Astra 1KR at least, dictated the flight had to be preceded by three consecutive successful ECA launches. There has been only one so far, last month, following the maiden flight failure in 2003.

When the contracts were signed it was anticipated the ECA would have flown several missions by the time of launch.

Meanwhile, an ILS Lockheed Martin Atlas V was due to launch the first Inmarsat 4 satellite on 10 March from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but the launch was postponed due to a technical glitch. A second ILS Atlas V launch on 10 August will carry NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The EADS Astrium-built Inmar­sat 4 is the world's largest commercial communications satellite, weighing 5,950kg (13,000lb), with a 10m (3.3ft)-diameter reflector and two 45m-long solar arrays generating 14kW of power. The F1 satellite will be located at 65° east in geosynchronous orbit and a second satellite, to be launched later this year, will be placed at 54° west. Three satellites are being built to provide Inmarsat's new broadband global area network.


Source: Flight International