A joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space and Security, United Launch Alliance has successfully launched an Atlas V 421 rocket carrying Morelos-3 satellite of Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation.

This was the 100th mission of ULA, which carried Mexico’s next-generation communications satellite into orbit.

It was launched from Cape Canaveral air force station in Florida by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services president Steve Skladanek said: "The quality and reliability of the Atlas V is unparalleled, and today it delivered on a critical step toward bringing next-generation mobile telecommunications services to Mexico.

"The placement of Morelos-3 into orbit is vital to an effective Mexsat constellation, and partnering with ULA, we were able to help the customer achieve that mission."

Morelos-3 satellite has been delivered by Boeing and it will join the country’s existing Mexsat constellation as its primary telecommunications satellite.

Boeing was responsible for the design, development and delivery of this integrated system.

It includes a fixed service satellite and two geomobile satellites, two ground stations in Mexico for network and satellite control, and prototype user terminals.

Boeing Satellite Systems International president Mark Spiwak said: "This latest milestone represents Boeing’s fourth-generation of satellites for Mexico and underscores how our satellites’ capabilities improve daily and emergency communications."

"Now, we can begin to use Morelos-3 to expand the already robust capabilities of our Mexsat communications network."

It will also provide advanced communications support to the country’s national security, civil and humanitarian efforts, and education and health programmes for rural communities.

The new satellite is expected to enhance the current capabilities of Mexsat system by sustaining Mexico’s disaster relief efforts, emergency services, telemedicine, and telecommunications access in remote locations of Mexico.

Boeing had built a satellite for the Mexsat system, which was launched in May, but the satellite was lost due to a failure in the launch vehicle.

Mexsat programme director general Omar Charfén said: "The successful placement Morelos-3 into orbit is tremendous news for Mexico.

"Now, we can begin to use Morelos-3 to expand the already robust capabilities of our Mexsat communications network."

ULA Atlas and Delta Programs vice-president Jim Sponnick said: "Today was an especially proud day for our team as we launched our 100th successful one-at-a-time mission since ULA was formed in 2006."

This month, ULA will launch another Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Image: An artistic impression of Boeing-built Morelos-3 satellite joining Mexico’s advanced telecommunications system. Photo: courtsey of Boeing.