ILS Announces 2 Launches Under Eutelsat Agreement

Proton rocket
Proton rocket

RESTON, Va. (ILS PR) — International Launch Services (ILS) announces its first commercial shared launch using a Proton Breeze M with the EUTELSAT 5 West B satellite and MEV-1, the first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) developed by Orbital ATK. In addition, ILS is pleased to announce the first commercial contract incorporating the use of the newly announced Proton Medium launch vehicle. Both launches are for Eutelsat Communications, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, headquartered in Paris, France.

The shared launch on Proton Breeze M will carry the EUTELSAT 5 West B satellite, built on Orbital ATK’s GEOStar ™ satellite platform, with an Airbus Defence and Space-built payload stacked on top of Orbital ATK’s MEV-1 spacecraft for launch in the last quarter of 2018. The second mission is baselined with the Proton Medium launch vehicle with launch to be conducted in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Both missions will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

These two missions for Eutelsat are included under the Multi-Launch Agreement (MLA) announced by ILS in October of last year. The MLA was designed to provide Eutelsat with schedule flexibility and assured access to space at cost effective prices over a seven-year period. The first mission launched under the MLA was the Eutelsat 9B satellite on January 30, 2016.
The Proton Medium vehicle was introduced last month, along with the Proton Light vehicle, during World Satellite Business Week in Paris. The vehicles are a product line extension of the commercial Proton Breeze M designed to expand the Proton addressable GEO market with competitive launch solutions in the small and medium satellite class range (3 to 5 metric tons). The vehicles are 2-stage versions of the time-tested and flight-proven Proton Breeze M launch system developed for exclusive commercial use by ILS.

“Our agreements with ILS are aligned with our plans for fleet expansion and our commitment to control capital expenditure. We commend Khrunichev for the new expanded line of Proton vehicles that should bring added diversity in more segments of the commercial launch market; we thank ILS and Khrunichev for responding with viable and economical launch solutions,” said Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat.

“We are honored to announce a Proton Medium mission and our first commercial shared launch on Proton Breeze M with Eutelsat, a loyal customer of ours for over 15 years and 11 Proton launches to date. Under the framework of the MLA agreement, ILS is able to offer access to our complete family of Proton launch vehicles thereby providing Eutelsat with the added value of flexibility and interchangeability to meet their business requirements going forward. We look forward to delivering on our commitments and supporting these important upcoming launches,” said ILS President, Kirk Pysher.


  • 3 things:
    1) I wonder what kind of deal ILS gave Eutelsat to be the launch customer for Proton-Medium?

    2) Continuing Proton (development) when Khrunichev should be switching to Angara makes me question the viability of that program/design.

    3) If OATK wants to be player in commercial launch, they can’t let launches like this go on other rockets. They need a packaged deal that keeps their payloads on their rockets.

  • passinglurker

    on 3 what is the mass of OATK’s MEV-1 and what rockets in OATK’s catalog could deliver it to at least GTO?

  • I think Antares could lift this no problem. Antares can lift like 6000kg max (per their user guide) to LEO. They say this is designed for ~2000kg satellites and from the size on the promotional artwork, I’d say it’s around ~750kg. If you are going to GEO, just put 2 STARs (also made by OATK) on it for GTO and circularization and you’re done!
    Yeah, there are lots of parts to this, but ultimately OATK owns all of those parts. There just isn’t a better opportunity that these kinds of payloads to use every part of their company from Magna to Gilbert to Elkton to Wallops.

  • JamesG

    The problem is that rockets and sats have become competitive commodities and customers have a lot of options to pick and choose vendors and then demand that they get stitched together and integrated into a functional launcher and spacecraft. Its amazing that it happens at all. In addition to the above technical and business reasons, sometimes there
    are political and other secondary considerations at play.

    So sometimes you just have to get what you can out of a project,

  • All true things, but OATK is a mid sized player that wants to be a big player. They need to do SOMETHING to differentiate themselves. Vertical integration seems to be their best bet.

  • JamesG

    They just need to come up with some graphics for a ridiculously gigantic rocket and hold a press conference. All the cool kids are doing it.

  • Lol!

    Yeah, I’m not convinced that the world needs 4 or 5 superheavy lifters when the largest payloads currently fly on the under-utilized Delta IV Heavy. That’s part of why I keep talking about improving business and profitability via new markets or vertical integration. With few new technologies on the horizon (Orion, Dragon and CST-100 are just Apollo CSM redux without the need for the resources of a Manhattan Project-style budget), then focus your efforts on innovating the business model!

    Offer complete launch/satellite/operations contracts. Have a complete satellite life extension business that you launch yourself and make the controls the same as the current system so operators don’t have to interface with a different system. Develop a deal with satellite insurers that you refresh “totaled” or empty satellites that would otherwise be sent to graveyard orbits and resell them to customers in lower-end markets.

    OATK has the makings of a vertically integrated space powerhouse, but they need to execute like crazy.