McLEAN, Va., Sept. 19, 2007 – International Launch Services (ILS) has established its independent Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) that will review the results of the Russian State Commission's investigation into the Sept. 6 Proton launch vehicle failure.
A Proton M/Breeze M launcher, built by ILS partner Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, failed during second-stage operation, a little more than two minutes into flight. It had lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and was carrying the JCSAT-11 satellite. Debris from both launcher and satellite have been recovered from an uninhabited area about 50 kilometers from the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
The FROB will be led by Jim Bonner, ILS Vice President of Programs and Operations and Chief Technical Officer. Kevin Sloan, ILS Launch Operations Director, will serve as executive secretary. The composition of the FROB includes three industry specialists (voting members), plus representatives from the affected mission and the return-to-flight mission – as well as an insurance industry representative – all of whom serve in an ex-officio, non-voting capacity.
The oversight board will be briefed by representatives of the Russian State Commission in Moscow upon completion of the commission's investigation. The FROB is chartered to independently review the methods, conclusions and corrective action recommendations of the Russian commission's investigation, and to report on the findings. The FROB does not conduct its own investigation.
All FROB activities are subject to U.S. government regulations. ILS is submitting a technical assistance agreement to the U.S. Department of State, which will provide authority to engage in discussions with Khrunichev regarding the mission.
Last week the Russian government announced the members of the official state commission that will investigate the failure. Anatoly Perminov, director of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), will lead the commission. The group is made up of 18 top Russian space, military and other industry and government professionals.
ILS President Frank McKenna noted that "the appointment of such a senior figure in the Russian space sector as Mr. Perminov, along with the size and breadth of the committee itself, shows how committed the Russian government is to conducting a comprehensive investigation. It is clearly a priority of all the involved parties to reach an informed conclusion and return Proton to flight as soon as possible."
After the FROB concludes its review, under a separate licensing authority from the U.S. Department of State, ILS will provide briefings to customers and the insurance underwriting community.