A heavy carrier rocket of the Atlas-5 class driven by a Russian RD-180 engine has been launched successfully at the U.S. space center in Cape Canaveral.
Atlas 5 is to place the 3.9-ton European Hot Bird- 6 telecommunication satellite of the Eutelsat company into a geosynchronous orbit. The satellite will ensure TV broadcasts to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
The launch is the first one for the new heavy modification of the U.S. launch vehicle capable of carrying into space up to 8.7 tons of equipment.
The Russian engine has been developed and manufactured by the Academician Valentin Glushko Energomash facility Valentin located in the town of Khimki outside Moscow. Energomash had won a tender for the export of its new powerful RD-180 engines for U.S. aerospace facilities, Yuri Korotkov, Energomash press secretary, said earlier. This engine proved better that those built not only in Western Europe but also in the United States.
The carrier rocket has been launched by the International Launch Service company, a joint venture in which the U.S. Lockheed-Martin corporation and two Russian partners - the Khrunichev Center and the Energia Space Rocket Corporation - take part.