Kevin Reyes, ILS Senior Director of Sales – Asia/Pacific, has been appointed to the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council (APSCC) Board of Directors.
APSCC is a non-profit international association representing all sectors of satellite and/or space-related industries, including private and public companies, government ministries and agencies, and academic and research entities. The overall objective of APSCC is to promote communications and broadcasting via satellite as well as outer space activities in the Asia-Pacific for the socioeconomic and cultural welfare of the region.
Reyes joined ILS in 2016 as Senior Director of Sales, leading the sales and business development activities of Proton and Angara launch services for the Asia/Pacific region and SmallSat/Rideshare customers.
He has over 35 years in the aerospace industry, primarily in commercial launch and satellite sales. Reyes held engineering and business development positions at Rockwell International, McDonnell Douglas, and The Boeing Company on various programs including the Titan II and IV payload fairings, Delta lI and IV launch vehicle programs, and commercial satellite systems.
Khrunichev Space Center: Successful Hot-fire Test of Angara 1.2 Service Module Conducted
The propulsion system of the light-weight Angara 1.2 Launch Vehicle Service Module, manufactured by the Khrunichev Space Center (part of ROSCOSMOS State Corporation), completed successful hot-fire testing at the Federal State Enterprise "Rocket & Space Industry Research & Test Center" (RSI RTC) test facility (Peresvet, Moscow Region).
The hot-fire tests are the most important and final stage of ground based propulsion system tests prior to flight testing.
During the tests, specialists fr om the Salyut Design Bureau (a subdivision of Khrunichev Space Center) performed comprehensive checks of the propulsion system components on a test stand. RSI RTC personnel assured safe testing conditions and processed the test results expeditiously.
The positive results of the tests verified the propulsion system's operational readiness as well as the validity of the chosen design and procedural solutions. Based on the propulsion system tests performed on the test stand, the propulsion system has been approved for development and flight testing as part of the flight-ready Service Module.
The detachable Service Module is part of the 2nd Stage of the two-stage Angara 1.2 Launch Vehicle and is designed to inject the SC into its target orbit. The Service Module includes four 40 kgf 11D458 thrusters and fourteen 1.3 kgf 17D58E thrusters.
In November of 2016 thermal vacuum tests of the Service Module were successfully completed on the VK600/300 RSI RTC stand. During the tests the temperature modes of the Service Module wh ere tested in a cold & black space environment.
AsiaSat 9 is fully operational at 122°E! AsiaSat and it's newest bird are ready to serve the Asia-Pacific with more power than ever before, reaching wider audiences, and empowering people. Get the Press Release here - https://goo.gl/m2k6em
The ILS launch campaign team for #KOMPSAT6, scheduled to launch around 2020, is in Daejeon, South Korea to meet with our customer Korea Aerospace Research Institute (#KARI). The team was treated to a wonderful Chinese, Spanish and Korean BBQ meal. #ILS#aerospace#satellite
ILS is in Hong Kong for post-flight meetings with @AsiaSat. AsiaSat 9 was successfully launched on September 29 at 12:52 am Baikonur time. It was ILS's fifth launch with AsiaSat. #ILSProton#ILS#satellite#launch
International Launch Services (ILS), a leading provider of launch services in the commercial satellite industry, is the winner of SpaceNews’s “Turnaround of the Year” award for 2017. #ILS#ILSProton#SpaceNewsAwards
INTERNATIONAL LAUNCH SERVICES WINS AWARD FOR INNOVATION AND EXCELLENCE
International Launch Services (ILS), a leading provider of launch services in the commercial satellite industry, is the winner of SpaceNews’s “Turnaround of the Year” award for 2017. The SpaceNews Awards for Excellence & Innovation honor excellence and innovation among space professionals, companies, programs and organizations. SpaceNews established the awards to honor individuals and organizations who have made a significant impact in the space industry over the past year.
ILS President, Kirk Pysher said, “Putting stuff into space is hard and when your launcher has had a bad day, the whole world knows. Launch failures, anomalies, ground faults are all part of the business but it is how you recover from these events that sets your product, your team and your service apart from the competition. We have a great product in the Proton launch vehicles, supported by a highly effective and dedicated ILS and Khrunichev team offering innovative launch solutions for our customers. It was a challenging 2016 and beginning of 2017 for our team, Proton and ultimately our customers.” Pysher continued, “Our dedication and commitment to our customers for 100% mission success drove us through the challenges and brought us out the other side with a better product and service for our customers. With that in mind, I thank each and every employee of ILS and Khrunichev, as well as our customers, partners and suppliers, for enabling our successful turnaround and continuing to place their trust in us. Our sincere thanks to SpaceNews for recognizing our accomplishments with this honor.”
Overcoming tremendous challenges, ILS was chosen based on several factors to include its success record of 12 consecutive launches in a row, including three Proton missions in just six weeks, culminating with the September 29 launch of AsiaSat 9. This followed an extended period of downtime as a result of new stringent quality measures implemented by Khrunichev Space Center, the maker of the Proton launch vehicle.
Also during this period, ILS introduced new product developments to exclusively serve the commercial satellite industry: the 2-stage Proton Medium and a 5-meter payload fairing. In fall of 2016, ILS contracted with Eutelsat, for the first two-stage Proton Medium and its first fully commercial shared launch with the Eutelsat 5 West B and Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV)-1 spacecraft onboard the heritage Proton M.
The winners of the awards were sel ected through an open nomination, reader polls and by the deliberation of SpaceNews editors and contributors.
About ILS ILS provides launch services for satellite operators and offers a complete array of services and support, fr om contract arrangements, mission management and on-orbit delivery. ILS markets the Proton Breeze M, Proton Medium, and Angara 1.2 launch services to commercial and government satellite operators worldwide. ILS is a U.S. company headquartered in Reston, VA., near Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.ilslaunch.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
About SpaceNews Dedicated to covering the business and politics of the global space industry, SpaceNews is a privately owned multimedia company headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, with staff and correspondents around the world. SpaceNews was founded in 1989 as a weekly business-to-business newspaper for thousands of government and industry space professionals.
ILS enjoyed attending today's @WSBRoundtable luncheon at City Club. The lunch coincides with the Dec. 18 issue of @SpaceNews_Inc Magazine honoring the achievements of space professionals, companies and organizations. ILS is thrilled to win the "Turnaround of the Year” award.
The Proton rocket, Russia’s primary commercial launch vehicle, faces a life-and-death struggle to remain a competitive player on the international launch market, industry sources say. The veteran Soviet space rocket has spent nearly a quarter of a century as the vehicle of choice for operators of communications satellites all over the world. But it has fallen to near-irrelevance in just a matter of two years. After reaching a peak of 12 launches in 2010, the Proton is now staring at a real possibility of flying just a couple of missions this year and not delivering a single commercial payload. What could cause Proton’s dramatic fall fr om grace? It looks like a convergence of multiple factors has created a perfect storm for the Russian workhorse rocket. The 700-ton Proton traces its roots to the Moon Race between the United States and the USSR, and the design became the locomotive of the Soviet space program. Then came the 1990s, when the Russian rocket industry faced the chaos of the post-Soviet economic transition, combined with falling oil prices and the shrinking military budget. These factors left the rocket at the brink of collapse. However, the leadership at GKNPTs Khrunichev in Moscow (where Proton is manufactured) worked tirelessly with the newly created Russian space agency to establish a leading position for Russian rockets in the hyper-competitive Western launch market. Along with numerous other joint space projects with the West, the Proton became a major moneymaker for the Russian space industry by the end of the 1990s. The first decade of the 21st century saw skyrocketing oil prices, which gave the Kremlin plenty of cash to invest in the military and space industry. Ironically, it was during this time that the first seeds of trouble for the Russian space program were sown. Resting on the laurels of the Soviet legacy and hard-won achievements of their cash-strapped predecessors, a string of ineffective space bosses spent time lining their pockets and giving their friends and relatives lucrative, high-paid positions throughout the industry. Enlarge Anatoly Zak
Meanwhile, professional competence and quality control eroded behind a glitzy façade of Roskosmos. In the case of Proton, the lack of technical oversight began manifesting itself in an increasing rate of failures, some of which looked remarkably embarrassing. At the end of 2010, one Proton plunged into the ocean because too much propellant had been mistakenly loaded into its upper stage. In 2013, another vehicle performed a fiery salto mortale seconds after liftoff because flight control sensors were hammered into the rocket’s compartment upside down.
As the technical problems with Proton and other Russian launchers were piling up, the Kremlin was adopting more aggressive anti-Western policies on the international stage. Enter Dmitry “Twitter” Rogozin. The deputy prime minister was appointed in 2011 to oversee the Russian defense and space industry, and he distinguished himself with bombastic nationalist and racist messages on social media long before the rise of Trumpism. During a period of US-Russian tensions, Rogozin famously advised NASA to use a trampoline to send its astronauts to the International Space Station. This messaging came as the US agency had been paying millions to Moscow to access the orbital outpost—stemming from a deal hard won by Rogozin’s predecessors back in the 1990s. In the end, Rogozin’s anti-Western escapades symbolized the political risk associated with launching commercial payloads from Russia.
The perfect storm
In 2017, Proton spent the first half of the year grounded by massive quality control problems with its engines. The rocket returned to flight successfully in June and completed four seemingly flawless missions since then, but insurance rates for the Proton flights skyrocketed. That ate up the rocket’s price advantage over its main competitors in the launch business: Arianespace and the rapidly expanding SpaceX. The cost of transporting satellites to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, wh ere Proton is based, also reportedly doubled in the past two years. The Proton’s developer has also been slow to provide a wider 5-meter payload shroud, which has become a requirement for the hardware of many of the Proton’s customers. Developer GKNPTs Khrunichev is currently working on several new flavors of Proton rockets, including some with wider fairings, but the originally promised wide configuration was changed several times and has yet to be introduced. All these technical, political, and financial problems combined to leave GKNPTs Khrunichev deeply in debt and triggered the exodus of customers last year—as many as five deals were reportedly lost in the second half of 2017.
Anti-record of 2018
Out of several Proton missions planned for 2018, only one is currently dedicated to the launch of foreign commercial payloads. In a January 17 interview with the Izvestiya daily, Director General at GKNPTs Khrunichev Aleksei Varochko said that a pair of communications satellites—Eutelsat-5 West B and MEV—would be launched on a single Proton in the summer. However, sources familiar with the matter said that the assembly of the satellites at the US company Orbital ATK would not be completed until at least the fourth quarter of 2018 (or, more likely, the first quarter of 2019). European satellite operator Eutelsat pre-paid for two other Proton missions, but it has yet to decide what and when to launch. With its international customers vanishing, the Russian government has tried to give the beleaguered vehicle some federal payloads, but these are also hard to come by. Currently, the Blagovest-12L communications satellite developed for the Russian Ministry of Defense is scheduled for launch on Proton on March 22, making it the only sure bet for a Proton flight this year. Another classified military payload might also fly this year, apparently on an as-needed basis. Roskosmos also assigned Proton to carry the Elektro-L No. 3 weather satellite and the Spektr-RG X-ray observatory, but both of these were designed for the smaller Zenit rocket. Launching them on Proton essentially wastes the rocket’s lifting capacity, as well as time and money needed for the reconfiguration of both spacecraft. As a result, Spektr-RG no longer has a real chance to fly this year; Elektro-L is currently scheduled for launch in October, but that might also slip into 2019. The only other Russian payload on the 2018 manifest that would truly need Proton is the 20-ton MLM Nauka module, with its launch to the International Space Station officially slated for December. “Officially” is the key word, because experts involved in the project say that the launch date had been chosen for political purposes to keep the mission in 2018 and that this deadline will be very difficult to meet. All this means that after 53 years in service, the venerable Proton rocket might set an anti-record in 2018 by flying only a couple of missions. And, for the first time since its entrance onto the world market at the end of the Cold War, it may not bring any money to its cash-strapped developer.
Khrunichev Space Center and the Central Machine Building Research Institute (TsNIIMash) are performing joint vibration tests of one of the Universal Rocket Modules (URM-1) that form the core of the Angara-A5 first stage. More: http://bit.ly/2BHZL3n@roscosmos#Angara#rocket
February 1, 2018 KHRUNICHEV SPACE CENTER: PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR SERIAL PRODUCTION OF ANGARA FAMILY OF LAUNCH VEHICLES
Department of Communications - Khrunichev Space Center
Khrunichev Center (part of ROSCOSMOS State Corporation) and the Central Machine Building Research Institute (TsNIIMash) are performing joint vibration tests of one of the Universal Rocket Modules (URM-1) that form the core of the Angara-A5 first stage. These tests started in late 2017 and will take several months to complete.
The tests conducted at TsNIIMash are required to objectively assess the quality and reliability of the article prior to initiating serial production.
The serial production of URMs for the Angara family of rockets is being developed at Khrunichev's Polyot Plant located in Omsk. The purpose of the tests is to assess the functional readiness for the serial production of Angara launch vehicles at the Polyot plant which is outfitted with the latest production equipment and tooling, and employs cutting edge production processes. Currently, separate parts are being manufactured at the plant for the second and third flight-ready rockets but the article is not being assembled here.
The Polyot plant in Omsk has already produced and began shipping some of the sets of URMs for the second flight-ready Angara-5 rocket. The test unit of one such module (this unit is labeled "PV" (FV), which stands for flight + vibration tests) is being tested at the TsNIIMash loads and dynamics test site which has exceptional capabilities.
The final assembly of the second flight-ready Angara-5 launch vehicle will take place at the Khrunichev Rocket and Space plant in Moscow. The Angara-5 launch vehicle is scheduled for delivery to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 2018.
Flight tests of the launch system began at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 2014 with two successful launches:
- The lightweight Angara-1.2PP was launched in July 2014;
- The heavy-lift Angara-A5 #1L was launched in December 2014.
Angara Launch System at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Angara, the newest Russian launch system – is a family of light, medium and heavy-lift environmentally friendly launch vehicles (LV), that are built using universal rocket modules URM-1 and URM-2 powered by engines burning eco-friendly fuel components (liquid oxygen + kerosene).
Proposed variants in the Angara Space System family are: the two-stage lightweight Angara-1.2 LV, the three-stage medium Angara-A3 LV (there are no current plans to produce Angara-A3), and the three-stage heavy-lift Angara-A5 LV.
The difference in Angara launch vehicle variants is based on the number of universal rocket modules that form the core (URM-1 on the first and second stages and URM-2 on the upper stages). The lightweight Angara 1.2 launch vehicle consists of one URM-1. The launch vehicle using the maximum number of URM-1s would be the heavy-lift Angara A5.
The Angara A5 LV consists of three stages. The first stage of Angara A5 consists of four URM-1s, the second stage –has one URM-1 and the third stage – one URM-2. URM-1 is a rocket module that acts as a single-use first and second stage booster and is based on the NPO Energomash RD-191 engine. The URM-2 rocket module boosters are based on the RD-0124A liquid propellant engine with a thrust of 30 tons (designed by KBKhA). Its design has a great degree of continuity (commonality) with the liquid propellant 14D23 engine used on the stage three booster of the upgraded medium-class Soyuz-2 LV. Test flights of Soyuz-2 began in 2004.
The Angara Space System is being produced at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in accordance with a Decree of the president of the Russian Federation. Putting the Angara Space System into operation will enable Russia to perform launches of all types of spacecraft from its territory, providing Russia with independent, guaranteed access to outer space regardless of the nature and direction that military, political and economic relations with other countries take.
The new Space System should enable delivering unmanned spacecraft for scientific, socio–economic, dual and commercial purposes to earth orbits with various altitudes and inclinations (including geostationary and geosynchronous transfer orbits) and escape orbits. The RF Ministry of Defense and ROSCOSMOS (formerly the Federal Space Agency) are the government customers, while FGUP (Federal State Unitary Enterprise) KhSC is the principal design company.
Sponsored Post ILS’s Pysher: Proton continues to reinvent itself to compete by Warren Ferster — February 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The top executive with the U.S. firm that markets Russia’s Proton rocket blasted what he characterized as a recent slew of misinformation surrounding the vehicle, saying it enjoys the full support of the Russian government and that the culmination of a three-year quality control program instituted by its manufacturer is restoring the reliability for which the vehicle has long been known.
ILS President Kirk Pysher
“Nothing could be further fr om the truth,” Kirk Pysher, president of International Launch Services (ILS), said of erroneous press reports concerning a slow-down in orders for the venerable Proton.
Contrary to reports of a bare-bones Proton manifest for 2018, Pysher, citing manufacturer Khrunichev Space Center, said the vehicle has as many as five missions scheduled for the year. These include four Russian government missions, beginning with a communications satellite launch in spring, and one for ILS carrying two commercial satellites.
ILS has 12 missions on its manifest through 2021, Pysher said, including multi-launch deals with the world’s top satellite operators, and is actively engaged with several prospective customers for its vehicles, including the heavy-lift Proton Breeze M, the recently introduced Proton Medium, and the Angara 1.2. Most of the interest is in the Proton Medium, an optimized two-stage version of the standard Proton Breeze M geared towards a market that in recent years has shifted toward lighter-weight geostationary satellites and low-Earth orbiting constellations.
“The right sizing of the Proton Medium is an example of refining a proven vehicle, to remain highly competitive in more segments of a rapidly evolving market,” Pysher continued. The approach is beginning to pay dividends. As an example, Pysher said one major operator currently is soliciting offers for a five-launch contract involving satellites weighing 3.5 to 5.5 metric tons, the sweet-spot of Proton Medium’s target market. Currently ILS has one announced order for the Proton Medium, though Pysher said, “Proton Medium is available for our current manifested customers, if that provides the optimal launch solution for them.”
Meanwhile, Moscow-based Khrunichev is entering the fourth year of a quality control initiative that already is showing results: 12 successes in Proton’s last 12 missions dating back to 2015. Of those missions, eight were commercial launches conducted on behalf of ILS.
The initiative to improve overall Proton quality and reliability was instituted in 2015 following a string of Proton mishaps that eroded confidence in the vehicle, which has been a reliable and versatile workhorse – it has launched everything fr om communications satellites to International Space Station modules to Mars missions – for more than 50 years. Mission assurance has become a top priority at both Roscosmos and Khrunichev, as evidenced by a late 2016 decision to halt Proton flights due to a potential soldering issue within a batch of engines that was identified during a standard quality inspection of an engine that had just successfully completed a test firing.
ILS Proton Medium rocket
“Since the engine passed the test firing without issue, the decision could have been made to continue to fly, and the vehicle most likely would have performed without issue,” Pysher said. However, Khrunichev and Roscosmos decided to stand-down and replace all potentially affected parts. “This was not an easy decision but it clearly demonstrates the dedication to ensuring mission success,” he said.
Pysher attributed the renewed focus on quality to new management at Khrunichev, beginning with Andrey Kalinovsky, who instituted the quality control and other modernization activities upon coming to the organization fr om Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company in 2014. Kalinovsky is now with Roscosmos State Corporation, which oversees Russia’s space industry, wh ere he serves as executive director in charge of quality and reliability.
Kalinovsky’s replacement as Khrunichev director general is Aleksey Varochko, who took the reins of the company last year with the same zeal for quality control.
“Our task at Khrunichev is to ensure that reliable hardware is produced and delivered on time for all planned and future Proton and Angara missions,” Varochko said. “Our commitment to ensuring quality in our product lines is the highest priority. We are now beginning our fourth year into the extensive reform of our business and all phases of the program have been successfully conducted. However, we are certainly not finished with our work. We are dedicated to continual improvement of our processes, our people and our product for now, and well into the future.”
Pysher said the Proton flight hiatus, imposed amidst a string of successful missions, demonstrates that the new system is working. “There hasn’t been another time in history when the Proton was down for a year to investigate quality issues,” Pysher said. “That was a paradigm shift; it’s what the market has been asking for.”
ILS and Khrunichev have strategically developed a family of Proton variants that provide the necessary flexibility at an attractive price and you won’t have to settle for used hardware
The vehicle returned to flight in June 2017, performing four successful missions, including three Protons launched over a six-week period.
Nonetheless, insurance rates for Proton missions remain above the market average, Pysher acknowledged. He said the reliability issues did not happen overnight and restoring the underwriters’ confidence in Proton will not happen overnight either.
“The insurance market is really looking for Proton to demonstrate that it is not a 1-failure-every-10-launches system,” Pysher said. “We are seeing the rates drop but not to the extent we would like them to. Based on discussions with the underwriting market, we expect to see the capacity start to come back to Proton after 15 successful missions and be fully engaged by 20.”
Pysher did not deny that competition was fierce in 2017, with the launch service providers battling over only 11 commercial geostationary satellite launch orders for the year. However, he said, both established and new operators have made it clear that they want ILS in the market, and appreciate having ILS and Proton as one of the mainstay providers to launch their satellites on time, whether it is dedicated, a dual launch or multi-satellite constellation.
“ILS is considered one of the most successful post Cold-War U.S.-Russian partnerships and we have endured the test of time. We have weathered the highs and lows in the marketplace over a 25-year period with 96 commercial launches to date. We have responded to market demand time and time again and have right-sized the Proton launch vehicle and our product offerings accordingly,” Pysher noted.
Geostationary satellite operators clearly are struggling with how best to compete with terrestrial systems, with no consensus as to which design approach is most advantageous in that regard. But there is consensus on the need for launch services that cost far less and are flexible enough to accommodate whatever approach the operators choose, be that large, high-throughput satellites, medium-class satellites featuring electric propulsion, or lighter-weight satellites that can be launched in pairs or in bunches.
“ILS and Khrunichev have strategically developed a family of Proton variants that provide the necessary flexibility at an attractive price and you won’t have to settle for used hardware,” Pysher said. “ILS is listening to wh ere our customers want to go and we are focused on finding ways to reduce the cost of the entire launch service, across the board.”
Proton Medium is derived from the Proton M by simply removing the third stage of the heritage vehicle and replacing it with an interstage structure, thus maintaining the flight qualified systems while minimizing the need for new ground infrastructure.
“Other major providers are introducing brand new vehicles beginning in 2020,” Pysher continued. “We have Arianespace’s parent company ArianeGroup moving ahead with Ariane 6 to replace the existing Ariane 5, ULA is introducing the Vulcan to replace Atlas V, Mitsubishi is introducing the H3 to replace H2A, SpaceX announced a new heavy-lifter called the BFR and Blue Origin introduced New Glenn. Come the 2020-2022 timeframe, the only heritage launch vehicle that will be flying is Proton and that is wh ere commercial operators will find stability, proven reliability, and schedule assurance for their critical programs. Proton is not going anywhere and will remain a force to be reckoned with in the commercial market.”
Warren Ferster is a veteran aerospace journalist and former editor of SpaceNews. The SpaceNews editorial team was not involved in writing or editing this sponsored post.