International Launch Services (ILS) at the APSCC 2009 Satellite Conference & Exhibition
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, September 29-October 1
During the APSCC conference, ILS President Frank McKenna participated as a panelist on the Launch Services Roundtable on September 29 and conducted interviews with the international news media. The following is a summary of the issues and topics that were covered during the conference.
A Sustainable Business Model: Proton by the numbers
McKenna said that the current ILS backlog of 24 firm missions valued at over $2 billion dollars, and 9 new awards plus 3 mission assignments announced this year, is indicative of a healthy, sustainable business. The launch rate for ILS is 6-8 commercial missions per year and 3-5 Federal missions, with Proton launching at the robust rate of once per month. There have been 14 consecutive Proton launches in 14 months.
Proton has had seven successful missions so far this year, McKenna said, with the launch of W2A satellite in April, (the 50th ILS Proton launch), Protostar II in May, Sirius FM-5 in July, AsiaSat 5 in August and Nimiq 5 on September 18, along with two Federal missions. The combination of commercial and federal missions creates a viable business model for the company with a year-end wrap up of 12 Proton missions for 2009.
Update on the Quality Initiative
McKenna provided an update on the progress of the Quality Initiative (QI) that ILS and partner, majority owner, Khrunichev Research and Space Production Center (KhSC) embarked on in the summer of 2008. The QI is a comprehensive, long-term program targeted at improving the overall quality of the Proton system. The quarterly reports that ILS provides to the underwriter and customer community include the latest updates on the QI, a detailed history of Proton launch configurations, and the addition of new anomaly and waiver trending data that provides metrics into the ongoing continued effectiveness of the KhSC Quality Management System (QMS).
To date, 46 separate initiatives have been designed and fully funded in the three-phased QI plan. All Phase II Initiatives, designed to improve launch system quality, are due to be completed in the 4th quarter of this year. McKenna emphasized that the completion of most of the Phase II Initiatives to date will help ensure that the current drive towards an improved QMS is sustained over the long term.
Proton Production Rate
Factory production at KhSC is at its highest level in commercial history, McKenna said. Breeze M engine production has increased dramatically, almost doubling production in just two years to 14 per year. McKenna said the Proton supply chain is further strengthened and streamlined through the consolidation of the Russian Space Industries with most all of the manufacturers and suppliers for Proton now vertically integrated under KhSC. Upon completion in 2015, KhSC will be one of the remaining core Russian space centers along with RSC Energia, ISS Reshetnev and Progress.
McKenna noted that the upcoming November launch of the W7 satellite represents a rapid mission integration timeframe that is unmatched by the other launch services providers. ILS was able to accommodate this near term opportunity because of the robust Proton production rate. A similar integration was also executed for AsiaSat of Hong Kong with the successful launch of the AsiaSat 5 satellite in August of this year.
Addressing Concerns about Launch Prices and Capacity
Some of the same concerns that were discussed at the World Satellite Business Week in Paris three weeks earlier were reiterated during the APSCC Launch Services Round Table about cost effective access to space and launch capacity. McKenna stressed that the current level of supply is proportionate to the forecasted demand, with 18-22 satellites launched per year. Together, Proton and Ariane have accommodated up to 22 commercial satellite launches per year which is more than the projected annual demand over the next five years. With two fully functioning commercial launch providers, he noted that other providers could bring added capacity where it is needed.
When asked, McKenna said that the recovery rate for Proton, in the event of a failure, is approximately 90 days. With a heritage product and the proven ability to launch at a rapid pace, ILS and KhSC are capable of a relatively quick return to flight.
New Proton Capability: ILS/Proton Duo
McKenna was pleased to make a preliminary announcement at the conference about a new Proton capability to address the light to medium satellite market segment (under 3,500 kg). ILS and KhSC are cooperating with Orbital Sciences on the technical requirements needed to launch two satellites on Proton at the same time. The Duo Proton capability was developed in direct response to the current market need for a more cost effective way to deliver light to medium spacecraft to orbit with a program goal of saving satellite operators 20% of the cost per kilo to orbit. The ILS Users Conference, to be held in mid October in Reston, Virginia, USA, will provide an opportunity to learn more about this innovative launch solution.
About the APSCC conference
APSCC 2009 Satellite Conference & Exhibition took place on September 30 to October 1 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. APSCC 2009 brought together the satellite community to identify key trends of the industry and address new technological and policy challenges in the Asia-Pacific region with thousands of participants from all corners of the world. The Launch Services Roundtable took place on Tuesday, September 29. In addition to ILS, Arianespace, China Great Wall Industry Corp., SpaceX, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries were represented on the panel
Please click here to see the interview with AsiaSat President Peter Jackson on the ILS Proton launch of AsiaSat 5