Russia Places Proton Medium Development on Indefinite Hold

Proton variants (Credit: ILS)

SpaceNews reports that Russia has placed development of its Proton Medium rocket on indefinite hold. The booster was a lighter version of the Proton launch vehicle designed to compete directly with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

In a statement to SpaceNews, [International Launch Services] said customers who have already contracted for a Proton Medium launch will be switched to the more powerful Proton Breeze M for no additional charge. ILS declined to say how many Proton Medium missions it has under contract. To date, only Paris-based satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has publicly announced booking a Proton Medium. Eutelsat made its Proton Medium reservation for an unnamed satellite as part of 2016 multi-launch agreement with ILS.

Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, the Moscow-based rocket builder that owns ILS, put Proton Medium development on hold as Russia weighs a speedier transition to the Angara family of rockets meant to replace Proton….

ILS, in its statement to SpaceNews, confirmed that Proton Medium development “has been placed on an indefinite hold” as Roscosmos conducts “an extensive review and analysis of the Russian space sector including the Proton and Angara launch systems.”

 

ILS Secures Additional Orders for Proton Medium Vehicle

Proton launches EchoStar 21 satellite. (Credit: Roscosmos)

RESTON, Va. (ILS PR) — ILS, a leading provider of commercial launch services, announced multiple launch assignments for Proton Medium launches that will include the use of both the 4.35 meter and the new 5.2 meter payload fairing. The missions will take place beginning in late 2019 from Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Proton’s Competitiveness Threatened by High Insurance Costs

A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

The Proton rocket’s’s string of failures and its year-long grounding following a 2016 launch anomaly have raised payload insurance rates so high  for the booster that its commercial viability is threatened.

Insurance premiums for launches of International Launch Services’ Russian Proton rocket, which satellite operators and insurers say is a necessary third leg for the commercial market — the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the ArianeGroup Ariane 5 being the other two — total about 12% of the insured value.

That compares with 3-4% for Ariane 5 and 4-5% for the Falcon 9.

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