Khrunichev and International Launch Services are slashing prices and offering other incentives on its Proton rocket amid a strong and failures and stiff competition from American rival SpaceX.
Taking advantage of the slide in the value of the ruble, officials have slashed Proton flights to $65 million, which is close to what SpaceX charges for a Falcon 9 launch. They are also offering schedule priority to commercial launches and more insight into and access to Khrunichev’s manufacturing and quality control practices.
HISPASAT of Madrid, Spain, recently announced a Proton launch order for a satellite that will fly in the first half of 2017. The company also booked the launch of another satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
Proton’s long string of recent failures has depressed launch sales in recent years to the benefit of SpaceX and Arianespace. The table below shows failures over the past five years.
PROTON LAUNCH FAILURES, 2010 – 2015
Dec. 5, 2010
Uragan-M #739 Uragan-M #740 Uragan-M #741
Rocket failed to reach orbital velocity after upper stage overfilled with propellant.
Aug. 17, 2011
Briz-M upper stage suffered failure of attitude control.
Aug. 6, 2012
Telkom-3 Ekspress MD2
Briz-M upper stage failed 7 seconds into its third burn.
Dec. 8, 2012
Briz-M upper stage shut down 4 minutes earlier than planned on fourth burn. Spacecraft reached intended orbit under own power.
July 2, 2013
Uragan-M #748 Uragan-M #749 Uragan-M #750
First stage failure.
May 15, 2014
Proton third stage vernier engine failure due to turbo-pump leak.
May 16, 2015
Premature third stage steering engine turbo-pump shutdown.
The Proton rocket has failed completely six times in the past five years, destroying 11 satellites in the process. The rocket also suffered a partial failure in 2012 with the premature shutdown of its upper stage. That satellite was able to reach its intended orbit using on-board fuel.
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.
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.
If ever there was an incentive for Russia’s youth to take underpaying jobs in that nation’s floundering space industry, this is definitely not one of them:
Employees of Russia’s Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Centre have been charged in connection with the 2013 crash of Proton carrier rocket with Glonass satellites, Investigative Committee’s official spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Wednesday.
The Investigative Committee has completed the investigation into the criminal cases launched after a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites crashed in July 2013 seconds after liftoff, he said.
Three employees, Denis Grishin, Alexander Nikolayaev and Diana Gudkova, have been charged with violating safety rules while carrying out works. The head of Russia’s Defence Ministry’s 1653 military representation, Marat Nasibulin, has been charged with negligence.
According to investigators, Grishin, Nikolayev and Gudkova in 2011 were tasked with installing the angular rate sensors on the Proton rocket that are responsible for yaw control.
“As a result of their violation of technical discipline envisaged by engineering and technological documentation, these sensors were installed incorrectly / at 180 degrees from their correct position,” Markin said.
This is not going to attract a new generation of engineers and technicians into the industry. That’s something they badly need after the post-Soviet slump.
With Russia facing a severe economic downturn, Roscosmos’ 10-year spending plan for 2016-2025 will be cut by 10 percent to 3.4 trillion rubles ($58.6 billion). A major casualty is a $12 billion plan to develop a super-heavy booster capable of lifting 70 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO).
MOSCOW (Khrunichev PR) — On 25 February 2015, Khrunichev Space Center (Khrunichev) and OAO Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) signed a number of documents envisaging expanded strategic cooperation between the two companies.
In furtherance of the Company Rehab Program, Andrey Kalinovsky, Khrunichev Acting CEO, and Nikolai Sevastianov, GSS Designer-General, met at Khrunichev’s Proton assembly facility to sign an agreement on strategic cooperation, and a contract for a Proton launch of GSS’s Yamal-601 communications satellite.
Russia’s new heavy-lift Angara-A5 rocket may replace the Ukrainian Zenit rocket in the Sea Launch project, a source in the space and rocket sector told TASS on Wednesday.
The announcement was made at the recent board of directors meeting of the RKK Energia space corporation. “The documents have already been submitted to the United Rocket and Space Corporation,” the source said.
Russian media are reporting that the first flight test of the new Angara 5 booster was successful on Wednesday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
The rocket consisted of five Universal Rocket Modules (URM) powered by RD-191 engines clustered as the first stage. Upper stages used on other boosters were to put a dummy payload into geostationary orbit. It’s not clear whether that effort was successful.
Russia hopes to cap off nearly 20 years of development work with a successful launch of its new Angara A5 rocket on Dec 23.
If all goes well, the new booster will place a dummy payload into orbit. It will be the first orbital launch for the Angara rocket, which was approved in 1995. A smaller version of the rocket, the Angara A1.2, conducted a suborbital flight test in July.
PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia (Khrunichev PR) — On 10 November, the Angara-A5 left the Integration & Testing Facility in Area 41 of the Plesetsk State Test Cosmodrome in the Archangelsk Region. The first-ever rollout of the heavy-lift launch vehicle and its transfer to the Angara multi-purpose launch pad proceeded as planned.
Currently, specialists of the Cosmodrome’s Center for testing and operation of space systems are preparing the Angara-A5 for tests on the Angara multi-purpose launch pad.
The Angara multi-purpose launch pad will be tested for seven days. The tests will include electrical checkouts of Angara-A5 and the Angara multi-purpose launch pad readiness for the Angara-A5 maiden launch.
The maiden launch of heavy-lift Angara-A5 from Plesetsk is scheduled for December 2014.
After being grounded for four months, Russia’s accident prone Proton booster will be back in action Sunday morning with officials once again praying it launches a payload into space rather than back to Earth.
Meanwhile, Russian officials are moving ahead with an expensive plan to overhaul Proton’s builder, Khrunichev, to allow it to compete with American start-up SpaceX on price and to produce a new family of Angara boosters.
Following a successful suborbital flight of the Angara 1 booster in July, Russian space officials are gearing up to test the larger Angara 5 launch vehicle by the end of the year.
The Khrunichev-built Angara is a modular family of rockets on which additional boosters are added to the first-stage core. Angara 5 is designed to place 24.5 metric tons of cargo into low Earth orbit (LEO). The smaller Angara 1 can loft 3.8 metric tons to LEO.
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.