Atlas V / ASTRA-IKR – Success

by Chris Bergin

US launchers returned to action today, as the Atlas V rocket, carrying the ASTRA-1KR communication satellite, launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9:28pm UK time. Spacecraft seperation followed just under two hours later. covered the launch as a live event, with updates and images – plus a high quality video of the launch, now available.

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“This was an especially important mission for ILS and our customer, SES ASTRA,” said ILS President Mark Albrecht.

“It was our 100th launch, and after 10 years of launching SES ASTRA satellites, we are delighted to have an opportunity to introduce this valued customer to the excellence of Atlas.

“We now have achieved 100 percent reliability on Atlas vehicles over 79 flights since mid-1993, launching both government and commercial payloads.”
“We are very proud and satisfied that the ASTRA 1KR mission has been a success,” said Ferdinand Kayser, president and CEO of SES ASTRA.

“ASTRA 1KR will benefit our customers, further strengthen our unique inter-satellite backup scheme and provide important replacement capacity for our ASTRA 1B and ASTRA 1C satellites.

“The success of the ASTRA 1KR mission is a milestone in our company history and shows that we have strengthened the fruitful cooperation with our launch partners, Lockheed Martin and International Launch Services.”


ASTRA-1KR is the 29th of Lockheed Martin’s A2100 series of spacecraft delivered to satellite operators around the world and the first of two A2100 spacecraft to be delivered to SES ASTRA this year. 

ASTRA-1KR is a high-power Ku-band satellite that features 32 transponders that will provide distribution of direct-to-home broadcast services across Europe. 

Operating from 19.2 degrees east, ASTRA-1KR is designed for a minimum service life of 15 years.  ASTRA 1KR will also provide continuity to the ASTRA fleet at that orbital location, replacing primarily ASTRA 1B and 1C.

ASTRA-1KR is the third of a planned seven launches this year for Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems.  EchoStar X was successfully launched in mid-February and JCSAT-9 was successfully launched on April 12.

Lockheed Martin’s highly reliable A2100 telecommunications satellite series has received several industry awards for reliability in its history, including Frost & Sullivan’s 2004 Satellite Reliability Award for excellence in the production of flexible and reliable communications satellites used in geosynchronous Earth orbit.

The Lockheed Martin A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft series is designed to meet a wide variety of commercial and government telecommunications needs ranging from Ka-band/broadband services and fixed satellite services in C-band and Ku-band payload configurations, to high-power direct broadcast services using the Ku-band frequency spectrum and S-band mobile satellite services.

The A2100’s modular design features a reduction in parts, simplified construction, increased on-orbit reliability and reduced weight and cost.


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