July 31, 2012
The first half of the year has proven to be a year of performance for ILS and Khrunichev, with five commercial launches conducted already this year and six Protons launched in just under five months. Over time, ILS and Khrunichev have created additional capabilities to meet our customers’ requirements.
The remarkable launch pace of the Proton vehicle has been accomplished through the capabilities that ILS and Khrunichev have put in place: the phased improvements to the performance of the vehicle, upgraded facilities at the launch site, and ramped up factory throughput.
Khrunichev has steadily invested $400 million dollars in facilities and testing over the past five years to support the Proton production line and quality system. The overhaul of the quality management system, implemented in 2008, has yielded a 100% flight success rate for all commercial ILS missions, totaling 29 missions. With a sustained backlog of 20 or more launches for five years, ILS is poised to launch up to 10 or 11 commercial missions by the end of the year in addition to 3-4 Federal missions for Proton. This remains the highest launch rate in the industry for a heavy-lift system.
Meeting Customers’ Plans for Expansion and Immersion Into New Markets
Our launch year began on February 14 with longtime customer SES, when ILS Proton launched the largest satellite in SES’ fleet, the SES-4 satellite at 6.18 metric tons. The hybrid SES-4 satellite was the 20th SES satellite launched on ILS Proton, providing enhanced capacity across three continents including some emerging markets.
Our first hosted payload launched this year was a specialized UHF communications payload for use by the Australian Defence Force embarked on the IS-22 satellite for Intelsat. This mission was the first to feature an injection into a supersynchronous transfer orbit (SSTO) for ILS Proton and resulted in 18 years of operational maneuverable lifetime for IS-22. In May, the Nimiq 6 satellite for Telesat was lofted into geostationary transfer orbit by ILS Proton, meeting demand for additional high-powered Ku-band capacity for DTH services in Canada.
The Y1B satellite, launched in April, was for new customer Yahsat of Abu Dhabi with a payload to serve the UAE government and military as well as commercial customers. Our third hosted payload delivered this year was on the SES-5 satellite, launched on July 10. SES-5 carried the first EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigational Overlay System) payload developed by the European Commission (EC) as well as capacity for SES’ commercial customers.
Three out of the five ILS Proton missions already launched this year included hosted or dual-use payloads to serve government clients to deploy civil or military applications. Launching on a dedicated vehicle, such as ILS Proton, offers several advantages to our customers: added schedule assurance, lower cost to orbit and customized mission designs to provide optimum performance. The Anik G1 satellite for Telesat, which includes an X-band payload for Paradigm, will be launched before the end of the year.
Increased Throughput and Launch Facility Upgrades to Serve the Market
The improvements at the launch site, including upgrades to the Proton launch pads and processing facilities allow us to accommodate overlapping campaigns and launch at a rapid pace. Our proven surge capability, as demonstrated last year with 9 Proton launches in under 7 months, continues to set the Proton launch system apart.
New Business Expansion Continues
New and return customers have placed their trust in ILS Proton with several launch orders this year, with three firm contracts for up to six missions signed in the first half of the year. These include a new customer, the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) of Mexico for the launch of Mexsat-1 in 2013. Last month, we announced a contract for veteran customer AsiaSat of Hong Kong for a new launch service as early as 2014. This agreement allows AsiaSat the ability to utilize the ILS Proton launch vehicle for any of its upcoming 3 satellites: AsiaSat 6, 8 or AsiaSat 9. We also secured a new launch service agreement with another customer, with a firm mission to be announced in the future.
On the heels of the 17th anniversary of the formation of ILS on June 15, 1995, ILS and Khrunichev have launched 74 commercial missions and continue to serve our worldwide customers, launching at the rate of about once per month. ILS and Khrunichev look forward to a fast-paced second half of the year. As always, our focus is to launch successfully with sustained quality, performance and value for all of our customers.
President, International Launch Services