PARIS --- International Launch Services (ILS) has established itself as a newly independent company, bringing in more than $1 billion in new firm launch orders for the Proton Breeze M vehicle since the beginning of 2007.
"We're moving at a healthy pace. In less than six months we have captured orders for 13 launches from eight customers, as well as a study contract that will likely lead to five more missions," said ILS President Frank McKenna.
"At ILS, 'performance' is our focus - both on the operational side, with successful launches, and the business side, by meeting our commitments," McKenna said. "By performing and improving, we earn customer confidence every day, and that leads to more business."
ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton vehicle worldwide to commercial satellite operators. Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry, manufactures the Proton and is a partner in ILS.
The new business for ILS this year represents "an all-star list of customers," McKenna said. "They include major operators - blue-chip companies that have been purchasing launch services for many years - as well as new entrants that are entrusting the launch of their businesses with ILS."
The new business includes the following, resulting in a total ILS backlog of 21 firm missions:
- Ciel 2, contracted through SES AMERICOM for Ciel Satellite Group, for launch in 2008;
- CMBStar for Echostar, for launch in 2008;
- Nimiq 5 for Telesat Canada, for launch in 2009;
- One Mobile Satellite Ventures satellite for launch in 2009, with an option for a second, beginning in 2010;
- A fifth-generation Arabsat satellite, for launch in 2009-2010;
- 3 satellites for other commercial customers; and
- A multiple-launch agreement with SES, for five launches and additional integration work, through 2013. This is the largest single contract to date for ILS.
ILS is on track to launch up to six satellites this year, pending satellite delivery schedules. The first, Anik F3, was successfully orbited in April. The campaign to launch DIRECTV 10 in early July is under way, and the Proton vehicle for the following mission, JCSAT-11, is also at the launch site. The commercial Proton launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan continue with a robust tempo of activity.
Making its debut with the DIRECTV mission is the enhanced Proton vehicle, with a lift capability of more than six metric tons. "We recognized that our customers are choosing more complex, more powerful - and therefore heavier - satellites than ever before," McKenna said. "To lift this greater mass to orbit, Khrunichev designed and implemented a series of improvements to the Proton. The cumulative result is an enhanced vehicle with the ability to lift more than six metric tons."
This additional Proton performance opens the door to creative launch solutions, he said, such as missions to low- or medium-earth orbit or the dual-payload capability under study for ICO Global Communications.
By 2009, these improvements will become the baseline configuration for all Proton rockets for both commercial launches and Russian government missions. "By having a standard configuration, we all benefit from production and operational efficiencies," McKenna said.
Khrunichev Space Center, which was created from the merger of the Khrunichev Machine-building Plant and the Salyut Design Bureau 14 years ago, has become a pillar of Russia's space industry. Khrunichev has its headquarters in Moscow, and includes among its branches a number of key manufacturers of launch vehicle and spacecraft components in Moscow and in other cities of the Russian Federation.
By the numbers:
- Established as an independent company in October 2006
- Backlog of awards that could ultimately add up to $2 billion in sales
- Proton is the only commercial vehicle with multiple launch pads
- 40 commercial ILS missions flown in 11 years
- 325 total Proton flights over 42 years
ILS is a joint venture of Space Transport Inc., Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow and RSC Energia of Moscow. ILS is incorporated in Delaware in the United States, and is headquartered in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.