ILS Appoints New President

ILS_logoRESTON, Va., September 11, 2015 (ILS PR) –International Launch Services (ILS) announces the appointment of Kirk Pysher as president. Mr. Pysher will take over leadership from Phil Slack, who served as president of ILS since 2012. Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center (Khrunichev), the majority owner of ILS, has provided its full endorsement of Mr. Pysher as the new head of ILS.

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ILS Completes Centenario Proton Launch Failure Investigation

Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)
Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)

RESTON, Va. (ILS PR) — The International Launch Services (ILS) Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) concluded its work, concurring with the most probable cause and the associated corrective action plan which were identified by the Russian Interagency Commission (IAC) as a result of the May 16 Proton launch vehicle failure carrying the Centenario spacecraft.

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ILS to Market Angara 1.2 Launch Vehicle

Angara-1.2 launch vehicle on pad at Plesetsk. (Credit: Khrunichev)
Angara-1.2 launch vehicle on pad at Plesetsk. (Credit: Khrunichev)

RESTON, Va. (ILS PR) — International Launch Services (ILS), a global launch services provider for commercial satellite operators, is now actively marketing the Angara 1.2 launch vehicle. The Angara 1.2 vehicle will be available for launch in 2017.  Launches will be conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia. Augmented with the heavy-lift Proton vehicle, ILS now has capability to launch the entire range of satellite masses with both vehicles serving the market.

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Dauria Signs Launch Agreement with ILS

Dauria_AerospaceRESTON, VA., USA, April 30, 2015 (ILS PR) – International Launch Services (ILS) and Dauria Aerospace (Dauria), of Moscow, Russia, signed an agreement today to collaborate on opportunities to launch spacecraft utilizing an ILS Proton or Angara launch vehicle beginning in the 2017 timeframe.

The agreement, signed by ILS President, Phil Slack and Dauria CEO, Sergey Ivanov, states that both companies will mutually cooperate on identifying spacecraft that can be dual launched in a stacked configuration—with the lower Dauria spacecraft supporting the upper spacecraft–on an ILS Proton or Angara launch vehicle. With this agreement, ILS would identify spacecraft that could be paired with Dauria’s ATOM spacecraft and together, the companies would assess the technical feasibility. The ATOM spacecraft weigh between 1050-1500 kg and provide satellite TV, telephone and broadband communications.

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Year in Review: Launch Industry Disrupted in 2014

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SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.

ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.

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Khrunichev Investigation Focuses on Acquisition of ILS Shares

Proton rocket
Proton rocket

In 2008, Khrunichev paid two and a half times more for a 51 percent share in the U.S.-based International Launch Services (ILS) than the company it bought it from had paid only two years earlier, according to Izvestia.

The disparity between the purchase prices has vexed Russian investigators, as have the identities of those who controlled the British Virgin Islands company that sold its shares in ILS to Khrunichev.

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Proton Woes Force ILS to Layoff Quarter of Workforce

ILS_logoSpace News reports that International Launch Services is laying off a quarter of its workers due to various issues affecting the Russian Proton launch vehicles the company commercial markets.

Officials cited three unrelated issues for the staff reduction:

  • recent failures of the Proton, which have grounded the vehicle for months at a time and made it difficult to market;
  • rising tensions between Russia and Western nations over Ukraine, which has made sales more difficult; and,
  • a temporary shift toward lighter satellites, which has benefited providers such as SpaceX.

Instead of planning for seven to eight launches per year, the company is now planning for three to four, requiring a reduction in staff. ILS is based in the United States.

Proton is used for both commercial and Russian government launches. The failures have occurred in government missions.

Lockheed Martin Offers Launch Guarantee as ILS Explores Dual Proton Satellite Launches

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA’s Mars-bound spacecraft, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA’s Mars-bound spacecraft, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) unveiled a guarantee program for its Atlas V rocket this week while rival International Launch Services (ILS) said it is working toward launching dual satellites aboard the Russian Proton rocket.

The companies made the announcements, which are likely aimed at meeting the growing competitive threat posed by SpaceX, during the Satellite 2014 conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

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1-for-1: Proton Back Among the Living (and Launching)

Well, this time was different. The rocket didn’t nose dive into the ground, its upper stage didn’t crap out midway through its burn, and the payload didn’t end up in the Pacific because someone overfilled the fuel tank.

Three months after a spectacular crash at the Baikonur Cosmodrome destroyed three satellites, Russia’s venerable and (in recent years) failure-prone Proton launch vehicle flew successfully last night, sending the ASTRA 2E satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) for SES of Luxembourg in a spectacular nighttime launch.

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Too Many Rockets, Not Enough Dependability

Holy shi'ski! The rocket...it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)
Holy shi’ski! The rocket…it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Space News reports that while launch companies say too many providers are creating a buy’s market that has left them with razor-sharp profit margins, satellite operators are complaining about the lack of dependability of the rockets they fly on.

SES, for example, has spread its business around among SpaceX, Arianespace and International Launch Services (ILS), yet it is grappling with delays on each of the launch vehicles.

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ILS Appoints Vice President for Mission Assurance

ILS_logoAugust 20, 2013 (ILS PR) – International Launch Services (ILS) has appointed Kirk Pysher as vice president of mission assurance and product development. Pysher will bolster ILS’ focus on performance with responsibility for the overall quality review and monitoring of the Proton Quality Management System (QMS), oversight of Proton production processes and procedures, and regular reporting to industry customers and insurers on quality improvements performed by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center (Khrunichev). Pysher will report directly to the ILS President, Phil Slack.

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Damaged Bearing Caused Proton Anomaly in December

Proton rocket
Proton rocket

Reston, VA, February 12, 2013 (ILS PR) — The International Launch Servies (ILS) Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) concluded its review on February 7, concurring on the most probable root cause and the associated corrective action plan of the December 8, 2012 anomaly of the Yamal 402 Proton launch. The FROB analyzed the findings and recommendations of the Russian working group, which included participation from experts from TsNIIMash (Central Scientific Research Institute of Machine Building), M.V. Keldysh Research Center and Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center (Khrunichev).

The members of the FROB agreed with the findings of the Russian investigation that the most probable root cause of the failure was due to a combination of adverse conditions which affected the operation of the Breeze M main engine during the startup of the 3rd burn causing damage to a bearing on the oxidizer side of the turbo pump.

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Report: Competition to Break Down Launch Industry Oligopoly

Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)
Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 6, 2013 (Frost & Sullivan PR) — As government spending decreases worldwide, space launch expenditures within established national programs will steadily decrease with the implementation of cost-cutting measures. Instead, governments will become more reliant on commercial companies to execute space launches. While global space launch expenditures will spike in 2013 and 2014, these will gradually drop as competition between commercial companies for space launch contracts heats up. The global commercial space launch market will transition from the oligopoly of United Launch Alliance (ULA), Arianespace, and International Launch Services (ILS) to a more competitive market with several, smaller companies that manufacture cost-effective launchers.

Frost & Sullivan’s Aerospace & Defense (www.frost.defense.com) practice finds that global spending for space launch activities totaled $6.70 billion in 2011. Space launch spending is forecast to spike to over $9 billion in 2013 and then steadily decrease to $8.36 billion by 2020.

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Errant Satellite Reaches Intended Orbit as Investigation Begins

Proton rocket

Thales Alenia Space engineers have placed the Yamal-402 communications satellite in its proper geosynchronous orbit after a botched launch by Russia’s Proton launch vehicle.

The recovery effort involved four firings of the satellite’s on-board propulsion system. Media reports indicate that this will reduce the spacecraft’s on-orbit lifetime from 15 to 11 years.

Thales Alenia Space built the Yamal-402 satellite for Gazprom Space Systems.

Meanwhile, an investigation has begun into the failure of the Proton rocket’s Breeze-M upper stage, which stopped firing earlier than planned during its final burn.

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