[QUOTE][SIZE=7][B]Proton launch provider ILS embraces closer relationship with Roscosmos[/B][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][B][url=https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/05/]May 17, 2019[/url] | [url=https://spaceflightnow.com/author/stephen-clark/]Stephen Clark[/url][/B][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][B]Structures, tanks and booster engines for a Russian Proton rocket inside the factory of Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center near Moscow. Credit: Khrunichev[/B][/SIZE]
International Launch Services, facing headwinds in a commercial launch market now largely shaped by billionaires and satellite miniaturization, has touted a new relationship with the Russian space agency and Glavkosmos as a means to drive down Proton rocket prices, make Russian space industry more friendly to the commercial market, and diversify its offerings.
U.S.-based ILS announced a change in its governance in April, with Glavkosmos — an enterprise owned by the Russian government — taking control fr om Khrunichev, the Russian manufacturer of the Proton rocket.
Glavkosmos is a daughter company of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, charged with marketing Russian space industry products and services on the global market. Khrunichev remains the majority owner of ILS, [COLOR=#FFF100][B]but Glavkosmos now controls the company after taking [SIZE=5][B]two seats[/B][/SIZE] on the company’s board of directors fr om Khrunichev[/B][/COLOR], according to Kirk Pysher, president of ILS.
ILS is responsible for commercial sales of the Proton rocket, a heavy-lifter built near Moscow and launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The new governance scheme gives ILS a cozier relationship with Roscosmos.
In a press briefing last week at the Satellite 2019 conference in Washington, D.C., Pysher said the change “gives us access to Roscosmos for talking strategy, pricing, schedules, etc.
“We believe that this now helps us create a new set of products, set of processes, that will allow us to compete more effectively,” Pysher said.
The Russian government plans to use the Proton rocket through the mid-2020s, and the Proton will only be retired when the replacement Angara rocket enters operational service.
“It is a tight market,” Pysher said. “We’re competing against a couple of billionaires,” he said, referring to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.
“It’s a difficult market, but the reality is Proton isn’t going to go away. It’s still going to be there flying, so let’s see if we can try to make some money from it on a commercial basis.”
ILS has multi-launch agreements with two of the world’s largest geostationary satellite operators — Intelsat and Eutelsat.
“We have long-term launch agreements in place for eight missions,” said Peter Stier, ILS’s vice president of sales. “We have unannounced agreements in place for a further three missions … We are pursuing business regularly, but that represents our commercial backlog.”[/QUOTE]