SAN DIEGO, Sept. 2, 1999 – The Failure Review Oversight Board organized by International Launch Services and Lockheed Martin to review the findings of the Russian Commission's Proton launch failure investigation issued its preliminary statement today regarding the July 5 Proton failure.

The Failure Review Oversight Board concurs with the failure cause and corrective action plan outlined in the report, "Proton: Analysis of Causes of July 5, 1999 Proton/Raduga Launch Failure," prepared by the Interagency Launch Failure Review Board of the Russian Government.

This report, which has been placed into the public domain by Khrunichev, describes a malfunction that began with the failure of a weld seam holding a turbine cover in place. This caused changes in the flow, which led to a fire within the turbine. This condition may have been exacerbated by the presence of microparticles introduced during the fueling process.

The corrective action plan involves (1) taking additional measures to ensure the quality of the weld and (2) improving the filtering of propellants to preclude the introduction of microparticles.

The Oversight Board met in Moscow with representatives of the Russian Government Board, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, and major Khrunichev subcontractors for the Proton launch vehicle during the week of August 23, 1999. The Oversight Board was presented with telemetric, analytic and test data collected during the course of the Russian failure investigation. The Oversight Board was also permitted to examine the actual turbopump hardware that failed during the flight, which had been recovered from the debris impact area in Kazakhstan.

Based on its review and analysis of this information, the Oversight Board supports the decision to return the Proton launch vehicle to flight and recommends resumption of commercial spacecraft shipment, processing and launch operations on the Proton, upon completion of the initial mandatory group of corrective actions recommended for the upcoming LMI-1 launch.

The Oversight Board will complete its final report this week, which will be provided to Proton customers and insurance underwriters upon State Department approval. Meanwhile, the go-ahead to ship LMI-1 to Baikonur has been given, based upon the Board's preliminary statement, and the spacecraft has arrived. The launch of LMI-1 is presently targeted for September 26th, preceded by a Russian government launch on September 6th.

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, CA, USA.

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