NASA has chosen the Atlas III expendable vehicle offered in a competitive bid by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, Inc. for the launch of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled in 2005. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services is a division of International Launch Services of McLean, Va.
This is a firm fixed-price task order awarded under the terms of the current NASA Launch Services contract for intermediate-class launch services, for which Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services is one of two selected providers.
The prime contractor for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft is Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, Colo., which is responsible for spacecraft design, integration of the science instruments and the support of mission operations. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft will weigh approximately 1,975 kilograms (4,355 pounds) and have a 250 by 320 kilometer-high (200 by 155 mile) polar orbit around Mars. The spacecraft's instruments provide significant improvements in resolution and data volume over previous missions and are being developed by both U.S. and international investigator teams. The spacecraft also provides telecommunications and navigation support for future Mars missions. There is a 21-day planetary launch period for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that extends from August 8 to August 28, 2005.