SAN DIEGO, Aug. 20, 1999 – International Launch Services (ILS), through its Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International, Inc. (LKEI) contracting entity, has established an independent Failure Review Oversight Board to review the results of the Russian Commission's investigation into the July 5, 1999 Proton launch vehicle failure. The Board is made up of experts with experience in failure analysis who have been drawn from within Lockheed Martin, NASA and other companies.
Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center (Khrunichev) has released the failure report entitled, "Proton ï¿½ Analysis of Causes of July 5, 1999 Proton/Raduga Launch Failure." The report states that failure occurred in the turbopump of engine #3 of the second stage due to a defect in the weld seam at the turbopump cover and nozzle. The Russian Commission determined that the cause of the failure was a one-time manufacturing defect and has recommended the appropriate corrective action to prevent a recurrence.
A Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA), which provides authority to engage in discussions with Khrunichev regarding the Proton failure, was approved by the U.S. Department of State on August 20, 1999. The TAA authorizes the Board to conduct a series of meetings with Khrunichev the week of August 23, 1999 and to prepare its assessment of the failure analysis effort once those meetings have successfully concluded. The Board will also review the specific corrective action plans for each of the upcoming ILS missions.
The Failure Review Oversight Board will be chaired by Eric Laursen, Proton Chief Engineer, ILS. Once the Board concludes its review, it will procure a license from the U.S. Department of State to provide the necessary briefings to customers and the insurance underwriting community. The earliest return-to-launch for Proton is estimated to be late August, with a Russian Yamal spacecraft as the payload. The first ILS Proton launch is targeted for late September, carrying LMI-1 for Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications.
ILS is a joint venture stock company established in 1995 to market the Khrunichev-built Proton and the Lockheed Martin Astronautics-built Atlas to the worldwide satellite launch market. ILS is owned by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and the Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International joint venture. ILS is headquartered in San Diego, Calif., USA.