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Atlas 3B maiden flight a success
Posted: Thu, Feb 21, 2002, 11:04 AM ET (1604 GMT)
Atlas 3B launch on AC-204 mission (ILS) Lockheed Martin's Atlas 3B booster successfully carried out its maiden flight Thursday morning, launching a direct broadcasting satellite for EchoStar. The rocket lifted off from Pad 36B at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7:43 am EST (1243 GMT), 30 minutes later than planned because of two minor technical problems. The booster's payload, the EchoStar 7 satellite, separated from the Centaur upper stage 28 minutes after liftoff, after being placed into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. EchoStar 7, a Lockheed Martin A2100 AX spacecraft, will take over for the existing EchoStar 4 satellite and provide local television programming for customers in Alaska and Hawaii. The launch was the second for the Atlas 3 family, after the May 2000 launch of an Atlas 3A. The Atlas 3B is similar to the 3A but uses a stretched Centaur upper stage with two engines for improved performance.
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