The Satellite 2015 Conference in Washington DC, held on March 16-19 brought together over 12 thousand industry professionals from more than 100 countries representing military and government, enterprise, telecommunications, mobility, maritime, commercial and more.
During the conference, Phil Slack, president of ILS and Andrey Kalinovskiy, General Director of Khrunichev, conducted a press briefing to recap recent accomplishments, industry milestones and to discuss current and future plans for both companies.
Slack opened up the press briefing with some background on ILS and what this year hold for the company in terms of launch tempo. Slack said that ILS has been serving the industry for 22 years and has conducted 88 commercial launches to date, enabling the deployment of new communications technologies and services for customers in over 20 different countries.
This will be an active year for ILS with 5-6 commercial launches, and up to 11 total Proton missions planned including those launched for the Russian Federal government. ILS conducted its first mission of the year with the Inmarsat-5 F2 satellite for Inmarsat on February 1st and Proton is launching a Federal mission on Wednesday. The next commercial launch is the Centenario satellite for SCT of Mexico at the end of April.
Khrunichev’s Role in Space History
Mr. Kalinovskiy discussed the long and distinguished history Khrunichev has had in the space business. Over the years, Khrunichev has been responsible for launching over a third of the world’s space cargo. With Proton as its primary product line, this heritage launcher will mark its 50th year in service this coming July. Over its history Proton has contributed to the advancement of space with launches to the Moon, Mars, Venus and Haley’s Comet. Proton has launched manned orbital stations and modules for the International Space Station. With over 400 Russian government and commercial missions, it is one of the premiere heavy lift vehicles with the longest running record.
Khrunichev’s roots were first established in the automobile industry in 1917 until 1923, then aviation from 1923-1960 and finally, space, from 1961 until now. Aside from the Proton launch vehicle, we also produce and launch the Rokot vehicle and the new Angara family of launchers. Khrunichev also produces rocket engines and space station modules. Proton marked its 402nd launch last month with the Inmarsat-5 F2 satellite.
Angara: Modular Family of Launch Vehicles for Maximum Flexibility and Efficiency
Significant strides have been made with the next generation of vehicles, the modular Angara family of launchers. Last year there were two successful flights conducted, one using the Angara 1.2 in July and the heavy-lift Angara 5 was successfully launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in December.
A variant of the first stage of the Angara system was also tested during the first three missions of KSLV (which stands for Korean Space Launch Vehicle) in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
Angara engines will use a more environmentally friendly liquid oxygen-kerosene mixture. The modular nature of this family of launchers ensures the maximum commonality of hardware for the different Angara configurations. The Angara vehicle will be capable of launching virtually all spacecraft to a range of orbit altitudes and inclinations.
Slack added that ILS is beginning to market the new Angara family of rockets and is currently selling the single-core Angara 1, a vehicle that can launch low Earth orbiting (LEO) missions from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.
“The only active site capable of launching Angara is Plesetsk, which is very near the Arctic Circle and not really conducive to launching payloads to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO),” he said. “That being said, it can be done for payloads going to polar orbit, to LEO, so we are actively looking for single-core version customers for Angara 1 out of Plesetsk, where we can lift 3 metric tons to LEO. We can also potentially use the three-core version, the Angara 3, which has not yet flown, but which would offer 14 metric tons of capability to LEO, so you get to launch several satellites at once for constellations.”
ILS will not be marketing GTO missions atop the heavy-lift Angara 5 until a new launch site at Vostochny is complete. “The Vostochny site is to be complete for Angara purposes in the 2021 time frame,” Slack said. “As soon as that’s developed and we have the capability to launch Angara 5 out of that, we’ll begin marketing that commercially also.”
Slack said that ILS does not plan to drop Proton in 2021, but will overlap service until 2025 as Angara is phased in.
Changes to the Russian Space Sector and Investment in Improvements
At Khrunichev, Kalinovskiy said he is directly responsible for ensuring a more efficient operation and streamlining the way we conduct business across the board. During my tenure at Sukhoi, Kalinovskiy was tasked with a similar job with respect to the SuperJet 100 and SU 34 systems—resulting in the overall improvement in the quality of the aircraft and competitiveness in the marketplace.
The Russian government approved Khrunichev’s strategic plan to improve quality, meet schedule commitments and achieve cost efficiency in September of 2014. These goals will be achieved with the help of substantial capital investment—with a recent infusion of 37 billion rubles—and far-reaching changes in the workplace culture with new training and performance incentives.
A major restructure of the Russian space industry underway, Kalinvoskiy said. United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC) was founded in December 2013 after the President of Russia issued a decree to create this entity. The specific purpose of URSC is to conduct a broad-based industry improvements to increase the global competitiveness of Russia in the space industry. URSC is responsible for the development, creation, testing, technical servicing and utilization of Russian government equipment, rockets and their components. URSC is also responsible for creating and launching space vehicles, manned and unmanned spacecraft as well as orbital and interplanetary probes.
A new entity, a state corporation which will be called Roscosmos, will include URSC and the Russian Space Agency. This effort is being overseen by Mr. Igor Komarov, who was appointed head of the Russian Space Agency in January of this year. Mr. Komarov led a major rescue of one of the main automobile companies in Russia, AvtoVAZ (LADA). It was near collapse in 2009 and through Mr. Komarov’s efforts, the production line and business offering were completely overhauled which resulted in a more competitive brand for LADA. He also became a partner of the Renault-Nissan alliance to specifically bring outside influence and ownership into a struggling company
As far the timetable, the second stage of the industry changes are in process now. The first stage began in 2014 and largely encompassed consolidating the industry and the development of the corporate strategy and action plan. The second stage is the Improvement Stage and includes scaling the production and manufacturing businesses to a more lean and efficient level, developing the United Project Management System and a comprehensive Quality Program. This will continue until early 2017. The third and final stage is the Expansion Stage and involves the final corporate restructuring, expanding into to markets and creating alliances and partnerships.