Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS)

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that operates international and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacturing, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Currently the company employs 113,000 people worldwide and the Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were 45.4 billion USD.

Much of the company’s business is in the defense sector and Lockheed Martin’s products include tactical aircraft and naval systems. Nearly 80% of the company’s business is with the US Department of Defense and the US federal government agencies.

Lockheed Martin‘s main business lines is Space Systems, i.e. space launch commercial satellites, government satellites and strategic missiles. In the early days a rapid growth in telecommunications technologies drove significant acceleration of demand for launches of satellites. In 1995 Lockheed Martin established Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) Company to market launch services using Lockheed Martin’s Atlas II and III rocket boosters to be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

LMCLS is currently the exclusive provider of all non-U.S. government Atlas launch services. With dedicated launch sites, superior orbital insertion accuracy, and a production program that has achieved twice the number of consecutive successful launches as the competition. LMCLS also offers Athena launch services for small satellites and multi-payload RideShare missions.


In 1995 Lockheed Corporation and the Martin Marietta Corporation merged to form the Lockheed Martin Corporation, nowadays a major global player in the research, design, development, manufacturing and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services.

In the 90’s a global market for satellite launch services emerged and Lockheed Martin wanted to share in the market growth. The emergence of commercial launch services was made possible by two developments in the external business environment. On the one hand there was a rapid growth in telecommunications technologies driving significant acceleration of demand for launches of satellites (the growth of satellite television channels and mobile phones was dependent on launching new satellites). On the other hand the political environment changed.

During the Cold Ware, global access to satellite launch services was tightly regulated and in many cases controlled by governments because of the close linkage between satellites and defense requirements. In the 1980’s a global market in satellite launches began to emerge.

In 1980 the European Space Agency (ESA) created Arianespace, the first real commercial satellite launch company, which launched the first commercial satellite in 1984 from the launch site Kourou in French Guiana.

Commercial satellites were also launched by NASA from Cape Kennedy during the 80’s. However commercial launches remained subject to government control. Soviet and Chinese launch sites remained entirely state-controlled and were used mainly for domestic military scientific and state telecommunication needs.

In the early 1990’s the global political environment changed dramatically. The Cold Ware ended and the Soviet Union disintegrated. The old enemies, The US and Russia, began to work together on economic and technological issues. In the space sector, NASA and the Russian Space Agency (RSA) cooperated by utilizing the US Space Shuttle and the aging Russian Mir Space Station to prepare for the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). Old barriers to technological transfers in the space sector between Russia and the US were relaxed.

The Russian governments and US promoted the privatization of Russian firms and commercialization of Russia’s space sector to facilitate joint ventures. The prospect of these joint ventures with Russian firms was attractive to American companies like Lockheed Martin at a time when the demand of commercial satellite launches had increased. Access to Russia’s aerospace assets, launch platforms, rockets and support services could help US firms gain new technology and increase capacity for an increasing number of satellite launches.

In April 1993 Lockheed Martin formed a joint venture with two Russian aerospace firms, RSC Energia and Khrunichev called Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International (LKEI). Following the merger in 1995, Lockheed Martin established Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) Company to market launch services using Lockheed Martin’s Atlas II and III rocket boosters to be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. LMCLS and LKEI then joined forces to form a highly innovative new company, International Launch Services (ILS) to market jointly the commercial launch services of the Russian Proton and American Atlas rockets on a global basis. The first ILS commercial launch using a Proton launch vehicle took place in 1996 and business grew steadily.

Lockheed Martin’s entry into Russia allowed the company to benefit from the technological base of the country and also got access to the Proton rocket booster. This resulted in an advantage in the global market for satellite launches. The US-Russian cooperation in the space sector gave a privileged position to US companies in Russia. The governments of both countries actively supported the ILS venture. The Russian government negotiated with the government of Kazakhstan to allow ILS the use of the Baikonur space facility.

With government support Lockheed Martin was able to benefit from early market entry in Russia several years before its rivals. Its competitor, Arianespace, only entered Russia in 1996. The early entry to Russia gave Lockheed Martin time to develop a customer base before its rivals obtained relevant technology.

In September 2006, Lockheed Martin announced its intention to sell its ownership interests in Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International, Inc. (LKEI) and International Launch Services (ILS) to Space Transport Inc. that was formed specifically for this transaction by Mario Lemme. The transaction between Lockheed Martin and Space Transport Inc. was completed in October 2006. Lockheed Martin has retained all rights related to marketing the commercial Atlas vehicle and is continuing to offer Atlas launch services to the worldwide commercial market through LMCLS.

Lockheed Martin continued to be very successful in the design, research and development, production and launch of satellites. In 2009 the satellite business generated 8 Billion USD revenues for the company and the forecast for the global satellite market is a growth of 50% till 2018.

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