SATELLITE 2015’s annual launchers panel returned this year with the leaders of the world’s largest commercial launch providers turning their attention to the course of innovation. The panel, entitled “Next-Gen Rockets and Vehicles Revealed!” was moderated by Ms. Shirisha Bandla, Associate Director, Commercial Spaceflight Federation. The discussion centered around the industry-wide push to remain on the cutting edge of technology with the ultimate mission of providing easier and more affordable access to space. President of ILS, Phil Slack, and other leading launch services providers, participated as a panelist and provided an update from ILS’ perspective.
ILS markets Russia’s premiere launcher, the Proton, to global commercial satellite operators and the future Angara family of vehicles as well. The Proton vehicle is now in its 50th year of service—a major milestone for space industry with 402 launches to date. Khrunichev, the maker of the Proton and Angara launch vehicles, has deployed over a third of the world’s space cargo serving roughly 22 countries across the globe.
Last year Proton marked some significant milestones: the 400th Proton launch with the Yamal 401 commercial satellite in December. With the first flight of Angara 1.2 from Plesetsk in July and the successful first launch of Angara 5 in December, this set the stage for the Angara family of vehicles to enter service.
Changes in the Russian Space Sector
The Russian space industry is currently undergoing change which is being overseen by the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC). Eventually, URSC will be folded under a larger State corporation called Roscosmos, and will include the Russian Space Agency as well.
The General Director of Khrunichev, Mr. Andrey Kalinovskiy, who took the reins in August of this year, is leading the specific improvements at Khrunichev. Mr. Kalinovskiy is a former President of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company and his achievements at Sukhoi included successfully implementing significant and broad-based improvements of their quality systems. Mr. Kalinovskiy was able to completely overhaul the Quality System on the SuperJet program, a cooperative international program involving the U.S., France and Italy.
New funding of over 37 billion rubles, has been provided for Khrunichev from the Russian Federation to improve production efficiencies on the Proton and Angara production facilities. Over time, these improvements will eventually lead to increased reliability, lower insurance rates and lower prices.
ILS/Proton Launch Tempo
ILS started the year with the launch of the Inmarsat-5 F2 satellite to support their Global Express program for Inmarsat on February 1. This was the 4th commercial Proton SSTO mission which provided an additional 200 kg of performance and a longer lifetime for the satellite.
This year there will be up to 11 Proton missions scheduled for launch including 5-6 commercial missions. It will be an active year for ILS and Khrunichev and a special one as well—as Proton approaches the 50th anniversary since its first flight on July 16, 1965.