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It was a busy but exciting time for ILS during SATELLITE 2018, which took place from March 12-15 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The conference has been going on for more than 35 years and unites aerospace thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, engineers, end-users and enthusiasts for the largest and most important global satellite technology event of the year.

ILS was active the entire week meeting customers, participating in panel discussions, meeting with the media, and hosting a rooftop reception at the Hay-Adams and dinner meetings. A look at ILS's week at SATELLITE 2018:


Contract Signing

ILS and UK headquartered Effective Space announced their intent to contract to deliver two of Effective Space’s SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft into orbit. The Proton Breeze M rideshare launch is planned for 2020 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“ILS is focused on serving the satellite industry with flexible, and affordable launch solutions and our agreement with Effective Space is a perfect example of that. The performance of the Proton Breeze M vehicle to deliver the SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft directly to geostationary orbit combined with our decades-long history of launching dual or multiple spacecraft at one time, makes it a natural fit for Proton to deploy their spacecraft,” said ILS President Kirk Pysher. “This combination of performance and experience will enable Effective Space to realize their mission objective in the most expedient and effective way possible.”

“Launching our first two SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft into a geostationary orbit is part of our strong commitment to our first customer, meeting mission timeline and ensuring smooth transition into a life-extension service,” said Arie Halsband, founder and CEO of Effective Space. “Due to the attractive economics, extending existing assets in space is something that is gaining significant traction in today’s market. With that in mind, the announcement of this launch, utilizing the performance of the Proton Breeze M vehicle, is an important milestone for a rapidly developing market. ILS worked with us to arrive at a reliable, high performing, cost-effective solution for our business. We look forward to our continued work with ILS and Khrunichev to propel this exciting phase of our company forward,” said Halsband.

Rocket Presentation

The ILS Proton Breeze M vehicle with the standard 4 meter payload fairing will launch the two spacecraft into a geostationary orbit. The SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft will then use their onboard propulsion system to maneuver to their contracted life-extension mission locations, as recently announced.

The SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft is a 400-kilogram spacecraft (1m x 1m x 1.25m) that has a universal, non-intrusive docking system to rendezvous and dock to the geostationary host satellite. The SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft then uses electric propulsion to take over the station-keeping and attitude-control maneuvers of the joint stack. Missions include station-keeping, relocation, deorbiting, orbit correction, inclination correction and ‘bringing into use’ (BIU). The ILS Proton Breeze M launch will be the first deployment of Effective Space’s SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft in 2020.

Planned fleet expansion will see up to six (6) SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft being sent to orbit on an annual basis. Future phases will see SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft being launched to support low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations, Active-Debris-Removal (ADR) and other logistics in space.

ILS Secures launch orders

Proton Medium

ILS 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.

“Since its introduction in the fall of 2016, and following the first firm launch order for the vehicle at that time, the Proton Medium has continued to gain traction and interest in the marketplace,” said Kirk Pysher, President of ILS. “Customers continue to look for vehicles that are right-sized for new-generation missions but also provide compelling value and launch vehicle diversity.” Pysher continued, “We look forward to the upcoming launches starting next year.”

The Proton Medium launch vehicle is an optimized 2-stage version of the heritage Proton Breeze M vehicle. The medium class vehicle serves the lighter weight satellites in the 3.5 to 6 Metric Ton range with the capability to launch single, dual or multiple satellites to a variety of orbits. The Proton Medium vehicle utilizes either the 5.2 or 4.35 meter payload fairing with the benefits of the standard, flight-proven Proton Breeze M configuration and spacecraft insertion history.


Kirk Pysher

ILS President Kirk Pysher was part of Monday's Closing Power Session - Launch Services Panel: Breaking Through the Bottleneck. The process and challenge of launching satellites to orbit breaks down to three basic elements: availability, costs and reliability.

While costs and reliability have long been the focal points of industry discussion, the rapidly increasing line of constellations, with thousands of satellites waiting to be launched, has shifted the attention to the problem of availability.

In order to meet current demand, the world's leading launch services need to dramatically increase their speed of operations.

Pysher: "We are strategic with our investments in technology and how we create a launch vehicle that works for the market. Lower non recurring costs equals lower costs for customers equals Proton Medium."

Kirk Pysher

Pysher and the other presidents/CEOs discussed topics such as changes and opportunities in the market.

Pysher at Satellite 2018: Our mission is to launch satellites into space, not to colonize other planets.


Kirk and Jim

ILS President Kirk Pysher and Vice President Engineering and Mission Assurance Jim Kramer met with the media at the ILS suite during Satellite 2018 week.

Pysher and Kramer discussed features of the Proton Medium – the 2-stage medium class vehicle which serves the 3.5 to 5 Metric Tons satellite class which is ideal for launching multiple spacecraft at once. 

With only the replacement of the third stage with a metallic interstage, the Proton Medium is identical to the heritage and flight proven Proton Breeze M – the workhorse that has been in service since 1965 with 416 launches to date. 


The simplified modification approach to the launch vehicle allows to minimize and streamline necessary changes to the Cosmodrome ground support hardware and launch pad tower.

around the Exhibit hall


The Kratos booth at the Satellite 2018 Exhibit Hall promoted the Constellation Podcast. Host John Gilroy interviewed ILS President Kirk Pysher a few months ago and the episode can be found here:

Pysher shares his thoughts on the rapid growth of smallsats and the increasing market opportunity for traditional launch service providers. He outlines the challenge faced by smallsat operators… that, “it is frequently more expensive to launch a small satellite than build it.”

Pysher argues that the most cost-effective approach for these new satellite operators is to share rides to reduce costs. He states that the cost of launch can be reduced by 50% right away, if the small satellite can be launched with someone else to share the cost.


Pysher also discusses the changing launch landscape and the continuing focus on reliability and how that is affecting insurance for launches.

When discussing engine reusability, Pysher makes it clear that the concept isn’t new and that there are many trade-offs in terms of reliability, cost and performance.

Hello to our new customer

Effective Space

ILS and Effective Space announced their intent to contract to deliver two of Effective Space’s SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft into orbit. The Proton Breeze M rideshare launch is planned for 2020 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Effective Space's SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft has a patent-pending universal non-intrusive docking system. After rendezvous, it docks with the host satellite and functions as an external ‘jetpack’, performing station-keeping and attitude-control.

‚Äč‘Phase One’ roll-out is providing life-extension services to operators of satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), including station-keeping, relocation, deorbiting, orbit correction, inclination correction and ‘bringing into use’ (BIU).

Further phases will see platform adaptations to support the evolving low-earth-orbit (LEO) constellations, as well as active-debris-removal (ADR) and in-space explorations, mining and manufacturing logistics.

ILS Reception at Hay-Adams

View from the top

The ILS reception was held at the prestigious Hay-Adams in Washington D.C.

Steeped in rich history and surrounded by the most iconic institutions of our nation, ILS staff, customers, and guests enjoyed the finest drinks and food that the Hay-Adams offered.

Enveloped by views of the White House, St. John’s Church, and the scenic Lafayette Park, the 5-star accommodations at The Hay-Adams are the embodiment of refined residence.

View from the top

Judy, Quynh, Lisa and Ursula are enjoying the rooftop view of the Hay-Adams.

The hotel occupies the site where the 1885 homes of John Hay and Henry Adams once stood, at 16th and H Streets NW.

In 1927, Washington developer Harry Wardman bought the property, razed the homes, and built a 138-room residential hotel, designed by architect Mihran Mesrobian in the Italian Renaissance style.

View from the top

ILS President Kirk Pysher chats with the numerous customers and guests at the reception.

The hotel opened in 1928 as The Hay-Adams House.

the ILS suite


It was a busy week hosting customers at ILS's suite at Embassy Suites in Washington D.C.

Many thanks to Lisa and Judy for ensuring that everything ran smoothly!


Judy's got Proton Medium!

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