In the meantime, Slack says the December launch failure has led to higher launch insurance premiums for customers, forcing ILS to lower prices in response. Still, he says ILS expects to receive orders for five or six launchers this year, and that the company has not lost any customers as a result of the December 2012 failure.
“You’re not going to win any business if you’re not going to respond to market pressures,” he says. “We think once we have a string of successes, that will create a separate set of pressures.”
By 2016 he says ILS will begin offering commercial launches of Proton equipped with a new 5-meter-dia. fairing that Khrunichev is now developing.
“We think it will put us on par with our competitors,” notably the European Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket and new Falcon 9 v1.1 launcher being developed by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., Slack says. “I don’t think that today there are a lot of spacecraft that require it, but as spacecraft evolve we think it’s going to be important.”
In addition, the company is planning to increase the rocket’s carrying capability by 200 kg (440 lb.), bringing the Proton’s total lift capacity for geostationary missions to 6,350 kg starting in 2014