UPDATE 1-Atlas rocket blasts off with Mexican communications satellite
(Adds details about launch and satellite)
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Oct 2 (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from a seaside launch pad in Florida on Friday to put a communications satellite into orbit for Mexico.
The 195-foot (59-meter) tall rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch was delayed 20 minutes to allow time for a wayward boat to clear away from the rocket's flight safety zone.
Perched on top of the rocket was the Boeing-built Morelos-3 communications satellite, a duplicate of a spacecraft lost during a Russian Proton rocket launch in May.
It was the 100th launch for ULA since its formation in 2006, all of which have been successful.
Morelos-3 was due to be put into orbit 22,300 miles (35,888 km) above Earth about three hours after liftoff. The satellite is designed to provide cellular voice, data, Internet and video services for Mexican national security and civilian services over the next 15 years.
Mexico is paying Boeing about $1 billion for a three-satellite system, collectively known as MEXSAT. The contract, announced in 2010, includes two ground sites, network operations systems and user terminals.
The launch marked a rare commercial mission for ULA, which typically flies U.S. military and NASA science missions. Continuación...